Is it possible to worry yourself sick?
Scientists have long known that stress exacerbates a host of health problems; but now they’ve discovered that chronic stress doesn’t merely complicate certain diseases, it can actually cause it.
Certainly, people who are stressed end up eating, drinking and smoking more, they tend to sleep and exercise less – tendencies that have obvious negative consequences for our health. But scientists have discovered a much more nuanced picture.
Stress isn’t just a feeling. It’s a physiological response to a threat which causes havoc to the body’s ability to operate the way it’s supposed to. When you’re stressed, your body responds. Your blood vessels constrict. Your blood pressure and pulse rise. You breathe faster and your bloodstream is flooded with hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
When stress exposes the body to a relentless stream of cortisol, cells become damaged and desensitised causing inflammation to go wild, which over time, can spark certain diseases.
Still, many of us remain sceptical about stress management. After all, stressful jobs, families to raise, tight finances and no time to spare … that’s never going to change. What can change, however, is the way that you respond to stress.
So, fight back by trying a few basic stress relief techniques. Breathe deeply. You can do this anywhere, at your desk or in your car. As you breathe out, relax a specific muscle group. Start with your jaw and on the next breath, relax your shoulders. Focus on the moment. When you’re stressed you’re probably living in the past or the future. Live NOW. Keep your problems in perspective and reframe your situation. Is what you’re worrying about now going to matter in 5 years from now?
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another” – William James.
Source: mayoclinic.org, everydayhealth.com, webmd.com, aarp.org, healthline.com
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.