The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Health and How to Combat Them

Sign up now for CNN’s Stress, But Less newsletter to receive our six-part mindfulness guide designed to help you reduce stress and learn how to manage it effectively. Stress is an unavoidable part of daily life, but excessive stress can have serious consequences for both physical and mental Health. As we observe National Stress Awareness Month, it is crucial to understand the impact of stress on the body and learn ways to cope with it effectively.

In a recent conversation with CNN Wellness expert Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and adjunct associate professor at George Washington University, we delved into the health implications of stress. Dr. Wen explained that when the body perceives a threat, hormones are released that can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. While these responses were beneficial in evolutionary times to help individuals respond to danger, prolonged exposure to stress can lead to chronic health issues.

Chronic stress has been linked to anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle tension, sleep disturbances, decreased immunity, and cognitive impairments. It can also increase the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Knowing when stress becomes a problem is essential. Warning signs may include mental health concerns, physical symptoms like heart palpitations or headaches, or changes in substance use.

Dr. Wen emphasized the importance of managing stress as a health priority, as our reaction to stress can significantly impact our overall well-being. Good coping strategies include deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, exercise, and engaging in activities that bring joy. For those facing unchangeable stressors like demanding jobs or caregiving responsibilities, self-awareness and self-care are crucial. Recognizing stress symptoms and prioritizing activities that promote well-being can help mitigate the negative effects of chronic stress.

In conclusion, taking proactive steps to manage stress is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being. By incorporating healthy coping mechanisms, self-care practices, and seeking professional help when needed, individuals can effectively navigate and reduce the impact of stress on their lives. Remember, stress may be inevitable, but how we handle it is within our control. Join us in the journey towards a less stressful and more mindful way of living.

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