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How Does Stress Affect Your Health

June 16, 2015

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We all know stress can affect your emotional well being, but the physical toll of stress is often much more dangerous to your long-term health. Often, people experiencing high stress may mistake the physical manifestations of their stress as an illness or other health problem.

Learning how to listen to what your body is telling you could be the message you need to slow down or change your habits. So, what bodily symptoms of stress should you be looking out for? 

Common physical signs of stress 

  • Headache 
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pains 
  • Upset stomach or digestion issues
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Excessive fatigue

Of course, one of the most dangerous effects of stress is on your cardiovascular system. Long-term stress can raise your blood pressure or increase your risk of heart disease. 

However, despite the physical symptoms you may be experiencing, stress can often feel out of your control. Luckily, there are several helpful ways to reduce your stress and get your health back in check.

5 Ways to Reduce Stress 

1. Take a vacation

It may sound like an obvious suggestion, but there’s no better medicine for reducing stress than getting away from it all. Don’t worry if you can’t afford to take a full week off or jet to a tropical island — even just a long weekend can be rejuvenating and help manage your stress levels. 

2. Exercise 

While making time for exercise might feel like just another task on your to-do list, even just a short sweat session can boost your mood and help energize you to face the trials of your day. Plus, exercise is great “me time” when you can enjoy a little peace and quiet away from the demands of your work and family life. 

3. Meditate

Practicing mindfulness first thing in the morning can help you feel more centered and prepared to take on stressful tasks. Try sitting quietly with no distractions and breathing deeply while working to clear your mind. It may take a little practice to fully engage, but the ritual itself can be a great way to minimize stress. 

4. Talk it out

Whether it’s a friend, spouse, trusted colleague or therapist, sometimes simply getting your stress out in the open can take the weight off of your shoulders. Plus, sharing your stress with others could help open your mind to a solution you wouldn’t have otherwise seen on your own. 

5. Ask for help 

Sometimes, you just have to admit you can’t do it all and the only way to relieve your stress is to ask for help. There’s no shame in getting assistance and you may be surprised how willing the people in your life are to step in and give you a hand. 

Your emotional and physical health are closely tied – don’t let one have a negative effect on the other. Instead, take steps to reduce your stress and improve your quality of life as a result. 

Is work stressing you out? Download our free guide to workplace wellness here.