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How Stress Can Impact Your Health

This April marks the UK’s 26th Stress Awareness Month. Despite the fact that small levels of stress are often a part of everyday life, the huge impact that high stress levels can have on our physical and mental health is often overlooked.

Many people don’t realise the effect that stress can have on your body; if ignored or left unmanaged, high stress levels can cause problems with the immune and central nervous systems, as well as cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal issues.

Learning how to effectively manage stress is a good for your overall health – especially if you are already managing a long-term health condition.

Stress as a trigger of asthma

Not to be confused with a cause of asthma – an asthma trigger is an activity or stimuli that will worsen the symptoms of asthma in a sufferer. Stress is commonly considered as an asthma trigger – breathing problems and stress can make for a vicious cycle, one that can be dangerous for asthma sufferers. Even in people without asthma, stress hormone, cortisol, can cause changes in the airways that make it harder to breathe, which of course, often worsen asthma symptoms.

If you would like more advice on manging asthma, see our recent blog.

Stress and diabetes

Similarly to asthma, stress cannot directly cause diabetes, though, when the body is under stress, your blood sugar can typically increases, which can make managing diabetes tricky – for both Type 1 and Type 2 sufferers.

Generally, diabetics who regularly experience high levels of stress find it more difficult to maintain stable blood glucose levels, due to the more frequent and less predictable fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Typically, people with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to experience a spike in blood sugar levels, while those with Type 1 diabetes may experience either an increase or decrease.

Stress and heart health

Many people commonly connect stress and heart problems. Though high stress levels may well have an impact on heart health, more medical evidence is needed before a concrete link can be made between stress and heart disease.

Not unlike the development of Type 2 diabetes, the connection between high stress levels and cardiovascular issues may be a result of the unhealthy habits often associated with stress. For example, many people under pressure and experiencing stress may have higher blood pressure or may smoke, drink and eat too much – all of these factors contribute to poor heart health.

If you’re concerned about stress affecting you or a loved one’s blood pressure, take a look at our blood pressure arm band.

Relieving stress

Regardless of whether or not you are managing a long term health condition, managing and reliving stress is vital for a healthier life.

Here’s our top tips for reliving stress:

  • Share

    A problem shared is a problem halved, as well as having someone to listen and advise where possible, explaining your stresses to someone you trust may help you lay things out more slowly and logically, allowing you to reduce your internal worries while being reassured that you have the support you need.

  • Avoid unhealthy habits

    We know that this is easier said than done, but turning to overeating, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking or other bad habits will only worsen the effect that stress has on your body. Try to stick to your usual routine, as this will help contribute to a healthier sleep pattern – which will, in turn, support how you relieve stress.

  • Physical exercise

    Rather than seeking comfort in the unhealthy habits mentioned above, try to take your stress out using physical activity. As well as producing stress-relieving endorphins, getting active – even just for 20-30 minutes – will contribute to a healthy, active lifestyle.

  • Yoga and Meditation

    Yoga and meditation focus largely on mindfulness and relaxation through rhythmic exercise and regulated breathing, these activities call on the natural relaxation responses in the body – responses that far too many of us neglect to activate in everyday life. You don’t have to make time to go to classes, plenty of sequences are available to practise before bed, on your lunch break, or even at your desk!

MySelfCare

MySelfCare is inspired to bring more control, and total peace of mind to the lives of people who are living with long-term health conditions. We strive to provide effective self-care, our home health care devices give more control to patients and their loved ones by allowing them to effectively manage their health.