Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Is Stress Making You Sick?


By Greta Nelson, RN, Good Samaritan Society — Services@Home

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, stress is defined as: “A state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc. Something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety.” Science has proven to us that stress, especially prolonged stress, causes the brain to release certain hormones that affect our entire bodies, including our immune system. Although it is hard for researchers to pinpoint exactly which illnesses are triggered by the body’s reaction to stress, it is undoubtedly the easiest (and cheapest) approach to increasing health and wellness, by simply reducing your stress levels.

The mind-body relationship is very complex. The following are some examples of physiological illnesses or problems that research has found to be stress-related:

  • Pain caused by muscular problems, such as tension headaches, back pain, or jaw pain. Many kinds of pain seem to be caused by or made worse by stress.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as heartburn, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
  • Insomnia, or difficulty sleeping.
  • Substance abuse, including smoking, drug addiction, and heavy drinking of alcohol. Substance abuse, in turn, can lead to other illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.
  • Asthma attacks in people who already have the condition or who are susceptible to it.
  • Other mental disorders, including eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and possibly schizophrenia.
  • Cardiovascular problems, such as irregular heartbeat, hardening of the arteries, and heart attack. Stress makes the heart beat more quickly and increases blood pressure temporarily.

Unfortunately, totally eradicating stress from your life is impossible; however, we can learn and practice some simple ways to help reduce the effects of stress in our lives.

  • Daily exercise. When we exercise, our brains release endorphins that helps improve our mood.
  • Get a good night’s rest, and eat healthy foods.
  • Meditation or Yoga can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Even out your work load at home or at the job by asking for help and support.
  • Make more time for yourself, your hobbies, or spending time with people of good company. 

If you feel overwhelmed most days and are having trouble focusing on daily tasks, or feel deeply depressed, seek out a professional counselor. You may also want to consider finding a support group in your area. There are people out there who can help you when you feel better.

Good Samaritan Society – Services@Home provides care such as housekeeping, medication reminders, preparing meals, grocery shopping, and assisting with other cares to assist people to remain independent at home. To learn more about Good Samaritan Society – Services@Home, please call 563-359-4444 or visit our website at www.good-sam.com/quadcityhome.

Source: www.humanillnesses.com/original/Se-Sy/Stress-Related-Illness.html
Photo credit: PeopleImages/iStock