Your heart is racing, your mind is panicking, you’re breathing harder as if you just ran a marathon, your muscles are tensing, you just want to run away…sound familiar?
These are some common experiences that we have when we’re feeling stressed. According to the Cleveland Clinic, stress is defined as “the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response.” And in this post, we’re going to explore the effects of long-term stress in particular. Normally we consider stress bad, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Even positive experiences can cause stress. Have you ever felt that rising anticipation from waiting to open holiday gifts? Or maybe you’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new child?
You usually don’t have to worry about stress from good experiences, but having lots of stress over a long time can impact your health in many different ways:
Heart & blood pressure
Stress can send heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone levels skyrocketing. Choose meditation or yoga to help relax you after a long, stressful day.
Brain functioning slows down when you’re stressed. This can result in memory issues, less of a desire to socialize, and increased risk of developing anxiety and depression. Take a walk or have a gym date with a friend to keep physically active and social.
Long-term stress harms the immune system’s response to foreign invaders. This makes you more likely to develop illnesses. Be sure to eat foods that can strengthen the immune system: citrus fruits, garlic, and ginger for example.
Stress hormones can keep the body alert and awake, making it harder to fall asleep. Also, it may be harder to stay asleep because the deepest stages of sleep are interrupted. A great way to help you feel more tired is to keep physically active: go to the gym or dance.
Stress can cause muscles to tense, possibly resulting in muscle pain or fatigue. This can cause back pain, headaches, and shoulder pain. Try gradual muscle relaxation to relieve the tension.
Long-term stress can impact all aspects of your life, and can be easier to manage with support and ongoing guidance. Learn more about our health coaches, who are trained to help employees lower stress and develop habits to support long-term mental health.