You can get relief from stress in just 5 minutes by doing things such as deep breathing, having a mug of green tea, or listening to your favorite song. However, sky-high stress levels aren’t so easy to conquer. The American Institute of Stress reports that 33% of Americans feel extremely stressed. This is worrying as high stress levels can have some serious health complications. Let’s find out what they are below.
More likely to be obese
People who feel highly stressed are more likely to ‘comfort eat’ to make themselves feel better according to studies. But this isn’t the only way stress can trigger obesity. Researchers have also found that hair cortisol levels rise in people with stress. The stressed adults with high levels of cortisol were found to weigh more, have higher BMIs, and have larger waists than those with lower cortisol levels. Obesity has been declared a national epidemic. 41.9% of U.S. adults are currently obese 1https://www.tfah.org/report-details/state-of-obesity-2022/, according to Trust for America’s Health, and this number continues to rise. Obesity is linked to 2.8 million deaths per year and also contributes to heart disease, hypertension, and various cancers. With this in mind, it’s important that you focus on battling your stress by doing things such as meditation, talking therapy, and exercising.
Changes to the brain
The brain goes into overdrive when you’re dealing with a lot of stress. The emotional signs of not coping include feeling anxious, nervous, distracted, and worried. Sleep is often impacted, too. Stressors, such as medical or legal issues, can cause a lot of stress. It’s always worth eating well, physically relaxing, and maintaining a social support network to help deal with these types of stress. If not, there is a risk that your brain will shrink in size. This will then make it harder to deal with stressful situations in the future. Another concern is that stress can kill brain cells 2https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/stress-kills-brain-cells/ in the hippocampus. The hippocampus deals with memory and emotions. Fewer brain cells in this area could also make it harder to handle difficult periods in your life.
Weakens the immune system
Your immune system plays a key role in fighting off infections and keeping you healthy. But when you’re highly stressed, your immune system doesn’t work as it should. Studies have found that stress kills off lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are needed to ward off infections. The fewer of them in your body, the more likely you are to fall ill. Excess stress can also cause inflammation of your immune system. It won’t just be minor viruses you’ll have to fight if this happens. You could also fall ill with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, and anxiety disorders.
Stress is much more than a strain on your body and well-being. Your long-term health is at serious risk when your stress reaches peak levels. Recognizing and finding ways to deal with your stress are the best ways to combat it and protect yourself from some dangerous complications.
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