Is stress keeping you from reaching your health goals?
The impact of stress on your health goals is greater than many people expect. While some stress can be positive, at chronic levels, it can be a cause for concern. It throws your body into a primitive survival mode and impacts your brain.
As times have changed, stress has become a natural part of our daily lives. With the extensive list of expectations many people experience, it’s inevitable.
So, how can you prevent it from standing in your way? By understanding how to manage stress and laying a firm foundation by building healthy habits.
Join us as we explore the profound impact of stress on your physical and mental health. We’ll also look at how you can get back on track with your health goals.
Before we look at the impact of stress on our lives, we need to understand what stress is. Simply put, it refers to a natural human response to challenges and threats in our lives.
Stress is the state of mental tension, distress, or concern brought on by a difficult situation. Just as everyone has a unique experience, there are also various types of stress. The three primary types are:
- Acute: Your body’s reaction to challenging scenarios—this is a short-term reaction. This could be a looming deadline or narrowly escaping a dangerous experience. People also experience acute stress after a personal achievement or exhilarating encounter.
- Episodic: Frequent occurrences of acute stress brought on by repeated high-stress situations. Most commonly, we find that healthcare professionals, journalists, and others in pressure-driven jobs experience these episodes.
While the effects seldom have the chance to return to normal, they often cumulate—leaving people feeling like the crises are never-ending.
- Chronic: The result of prolonged exposure to stressors like ongoing conflicts. This feeling of never-ending stress often seems daunting. The only way to overcome or improve this circumstance is to address the root cause of the stress.
During challenging events, the hypothalamus (region at the base of the brain) releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This internal alarm system prepares your body for its flight-or-fight response.
This automatic physiological reaction is often the result of a frightening or stressful event. The sympathetic nervous system triggers an acute response, preparing the body to flee or stand and fight.
As there are different reactions to stress, there are also varying causes. To overcome the symptoms experienced, you must identify the cause to resolve it. The most common stress triggers are:
- Employment: Whether it be the loss of a job or problems at work, the impact of this stress can be intense. Hopelessness, depression, or feelings of being overwhelmed are common experiences. People who experience employment-driven stress also often suffer from burnout.
- Health: While stress can cause poor physical and emotional health, it can also result from poor health.These two aspects impact each other, resulting in a vicious cycle.
- Death: Losing a loved one can have devastating emotional effects. Not only does this grief take an emotional toll, but it also causes stress.
- Finance: As life goes on, financial obligations take a greater strain on many people.
- Relationships: Ongoing issues in relationships (friendships, familial, romantic, etc.) can cause prolonged stress. As a result, many also experience poor mental or emotional health.
The Impact of Stress on Your Health
Can stress be positive? Yes. When briefly experienced, stress can be the motivational drive to push for better results.
In the long-term, however, chronic stress can have negative implications on your physical and mental health. Let’s explore the impact of stress when working on your health goals.
Though a normal part of life, stress often triggers your body’s natural response to protect from unpleasant situations. When consistent, however, these responses can also be harmful.
One such scenario is the impact on cardiovascular health. When exposed to stress hormones, like adrenaline, for prolonged periods, heart disease is a significant risk.
The lack of oxygen in the body and coronary blood vessel spasms are just the tip of the iceberg. The heart’s conduction system could also experience electrical instability.
The impact of stress over prolonged periods results in high blood pressure and heart rate. Ultimately, this makes the heart work harder and decreases cardiovascular health.
When experiencing stress, the adrenal glands release cortisol. During cases of acute stress, these short bursts of cortisol can be beneficial to your immune system.
In chronic stress situations, the elevated cortisol levels promote inflammation in the body. Ultimately, this increased inflammation results in a weakened immune system.
If left unmanaged, chronic inflammation could prohibit the body’s ability to fight off diseases. Along with a vulnerability to illnesses, you’ll also experience slower healing when sick or injured.
This increased inflammation also impacts your digestive system. It delays emptying the stomach, leading to indigestion, aches, nausea, or heartburn.
With this slowing of the stomach’s function, it could also speed up the large intestine’s performance. Many find that, when stressed, they experience diarrhea or bowel urgency.
Yes, underlying health conditions could cause increased stress levels. It’s a vicious cycle as this prolonged stress could also cause additional problems. Ongoing stress doesn’t necessarily cause gastrointestinal conditions, but it exacerbates the symptoms.
As we’ve mentioned, the release of cortisol in a stressful situation could impact regular bodily functions and slow your metabolism. The hormone creates a surge of energy by stimulating the carbohydrate and fat in your body.
Have you ever wondered what makes you reach for a Big Mac when you’re feeling stressed? This energy boost increases your appetite and sparks cravings for unhealthy (fatty, salty, or sweet) foods.
The rise in cortisol also results in your body producing less testosterone. In turn, it causes a decrease in muscle mass and slows down your body’s ability to burn calories. While it won’t address the cause of stress, many find that fat burner peptides help to reach health goals.
As much as stress presents physical health risks, it also has psychological consequences. Intensely unpleasant scenarios can manifest as various psychological disorders.
Typically, stress can be an overwhelming experience. When prolonged, it significantly increases the risk of mental health conditions.
Chronic stress can increase the risk of conditions like depression and anxiety. While both could be serious and even debilitating, they’re also treatable. Nervousness, irritability, panic, and feelings of hopelessness are common symptoms experienced. As the symptoms of these conditions commonly overlap, someone diagnosed with the one often has the other, too.
It could also impact cognitive impairment such as difficulties with concentration and memory. Fortunately, though frustrating, these symptoms are easy to address and treat. Along with basic cognitive-boosting exercises, the brain boost peptide combination may also assist.
As with depression, the impact of stress on a long-term basis could cause unhealthy sleep habits and restlessness. For many, in efforts of finding some relief, self-medication is often the chosen route.
Common coping mechanisms include over-the-counter medications and alcohol. People who typically experience chronic stress also face an increased risk of addiction.
Stress and Daily Performance
While stress can result from work performance, it can also hinder your ability to complete daily tasks. Stress can be positive and beneficial to a degree, but how does bad stress affect your day? Here are a few of the most significant ways to be aware of:
- Decreased focus
- Lack of motivation and lowered self-esteem
- Poor health resulting in increased absenteeism
- Low productivity or procrastination
- Poor communication
- Shortened temper or bad moods resulting in uncontrolled outbursts—impacts relationships
- Decreased sleep quality
- Inability to maintain a healthy diet
- Neglecting self-care and exercise
Strategies to Manage and Reduce Stress
With the daily grind being what it is, experiencing the impact of stress in your life is inevitable. You can, however, change how you handle stressors. Reaching your health goals comes down to establishing good habits built on good foundations.
Let’s check out some things you can do to build those healthy habits.
Identify symptoms and triggers
Keep an eye out for the common symptoms listed above. If you experience any of them, it’s time to identify the cause.
While it’s simple enough to treat the symptoms, it doesn’t make much of a difference without addressing the cause. Explore recent events to identify what is causing your stress. Next, it’s time to start working on finding a way to deal with it.
Once you know the root of your stress, it’s time to work on laying that firm foundation. Implementing a few healthy habits is the first step to finding peace. Here are some common building blocks to build with:
- Regular physical activity helps lower blood pressure, which, in turn, reduces stress hormone levels. Try aerobic activities like walking and dancing to raise your heart rate and get more oxygen throughout your body. Ultimately, increased breathing and more oxygen helps to reduce tension and improve cardiovascular health.
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps to support your immune system and repair the damaged cells in your body. Vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fats contain polyunsaturated fats that regulate cortisol levels in the body. Taking the time to practice meal planning helps to encourage mindful, healthy eating.
- Deep breathing and practicing meditation helps to reduce muscular tension and lower blood pressure. Continuous stress can often result in erratic thoughts. By calming the mind, you gain better control over your thoughts and gain a better perspective of the situation.
- Taking the time for self-care and doing the things you enjoy are effective stress relievers. Aim to take at least an hour a week for yourself.
- Find a work-life balance by taking the vacation and personal time available to you. A break now and then allows you to escape the pressures of your everyday life, reducing stress. Taking time off work sounds like a contradiction, but a brief rest helps to boost productivity and reduce burnout.
- Set boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no when necessary. You must put your mental health first and not be concerned with prioritizing the concerns of others. Know your limits and don’t allow anyone to disregard them.
- Seek help, whether it be social or professional. Once you’ve identified the source of your stress, it’s perfectly acceptable to turn to those around you for help. A friend or family member could be a great sounding board, a counselor could help you develop a much needed angle of approach.
- Practice better sleep hygiene to get uninterrupted rest. Better sleep helps to support your immune system and improve mood regulation. Spend at least 30 minutes before bed each night to improve sleep quality and reduce stress. Aim for at least 7–9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Employ preventative measures to get ahead of potential stress risks. Discover your adrenal health status through hormone testing and create balance. This data helps you to take the required steps to reach optimal health goals.
While stress can be good in some cases, prolonged exposure has proven to pose significant risks. Not only does it impact your mental state and daily performance but also prevents you from reaching your health goals.
Making a few simple changes to your daily routine helps you develop a healthier foundation. It also provides the tools to build a more positive approach to stressful circumstances.
Exercise, mindful eating, meditation, and self-care are the first steps in prioritizing your mental and physical health. When you put all of this together, you have everything you need to work toward your health goals.
Contact LivvNatural today to find out how peptide treatments can help you get on the right track. Visit the Livv lounge for a one-stop-shop to holistic health and naturopathic medicine. We help you consider the whole body when working to get your health where you want it to be.
Author: Dr. Jason Phan NMD – Founder of LIVV Natural – Anti-aging – regenerative medicine – peptide therapy