November 7th is National Stress Awareness Day. Chances are, you are very aware of the stress in your life. It doesn't matter if you are an executive burning the midnight oil, a student, an entrepreneur hustling to get your business of the ground, or a stay at home parent--adult life presents challenges. While no one wants to celebrate stress, it's important that we acknowledge it exists and find ways to manage and reduce it's impacts on our health.
Exactly how does stress affect your health? It can effect all facets of your well-being: emotional, physical, and mental. Long ago, our ancestor's bodies developed the ability to kick into protective mode when faced with danger, sending out hormones designed to increase heart rate, blood pressure, and energy. These days, it's unlikely that we'll face the attack of a saber-toothed tiger, but our bodies are hard-wired to face any difficult situation with the same response.
Just like when your ancestor jumped out of the way of the stampeding herd of woolly mammoths, that instinctive physical response can be beneficial--even life-preserving in the short term. It's when your body's stress response has to fire continually, over a long period of time, that these natural physical reactions take a toll on your health. Some of the negative side effects of long-term stress include:
- weakened immune system
- risk of heart attack
- high blood pressure and risk of stroke
- tense muscles
- digestive problems
- fertility problems
- increased depression and anxiety
There are many ways to manage stress and improve your reactions to it, which we'll mention in an upcoming post. One thing you can do right away is get some exercise! While it may seem counterproductive to take time away from what is stressing you out to move your body, the opposite is true. Physical activity boosts your body's production of endorphins, hormones that combat the effects of those fight-or-flight response hormones. Physical exertion during the day can improve your sleep--we all know that everything improves after a good night's rest. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, relax you, and even lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and help you move forward to deal with the situations that are causing you stress.
We're promoting stress awareness and reduction today by inviting you to bring a friend with you to our club! Today only (November 7th, 2018), you can bring a friend for FREE. Read more details here, and stay tuned for more information on how to combat stress.
Read Part 2 in this series on stress HERE, for tips on how to manage stress.