Avoiding the danger of chronic stress

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stress is something we all encounter at one time or another. Life’s obstacles pile up, and it gets easy to let the pressure affect you negatively.
We all know how stress feels, but what you may not know is how harmful it can be to your body.
Many refer to stress as “the silent killer” because of the unseen damage it does to people who experience it over a long period of time.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress activates the body’s “fight or flight” system to deal with a threat. This releases adrenaline and cortisol, causing everything in the body to kick into overdrive – the heart beats faster, muscles tense up, blood sugar increases – in an effort to fight off the imminent danger.
The effects are supposed to be short-term, but chronic stress can cause them to linger. Imagine driving a car as fast as you can without shifting gears or running multiple applications on your phone at once. Eventually, things start to wear down. According to the APA, the body’s continued response to stress causes problems in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and even muscular systems.
So, what can be done?
For starters, what we eat can make a big difference. According to WebMD.com, oranges, or any other source of vitamin C, and oatmeal are two foods that release serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical that calms the brain.
Exercise is good, too. It does not have to be overly strenuous, but any amount of movement or stretching helps your body restore its normal hormone levels.
More than anything, it’s important to keep a positive perspective. Life can be hard enough without becoming your own worst enemy. So take time for yourself every day, breathe deeply and focus on something that isn’t troubling. Whether you use that time to listen to music, read a book, or just sit quietly with your eyes closed, it’s important to your body to find some peace of mind.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox