The Impact of Stress and Anxiety on Your Health
As a parent it’s easy to neglect your own personal health and self-care at the expense of your kids. This is particularly problematic for moms, who bear the lion’s share of the childcare burden. When it comes to self-care, most moms only bother with the essentials for wellbeing – nutrition and exercise. Unfortunately, self-care requires more than eating healthy and working out.
You also need adequate down time or personal time to just unwind and pamper yourself. Without proper self-care, there’s no respite from stress and anxiety. Over time, stress and anxiety can become chronic, making it hard to relax even when you have nothing to worry about. While most of us recognize the emotional and mental health risks of stress and anxiety, we fail to recognize its impact on almost every other aspect of health.
How Stress and Anxiety Impacts Your Health
Stress and anxiety cause an increase in hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can help when their levels are elevated briefly. With chronic stress and anxiety however, levels remain consistently elevated and this has a cascading effect on other bodily functions.
1. Respiratory and Cardiovascular Health
The most well-established risk of chronic stress and anxiety is cardiovascular disease. Stress and anxiety are known to cause shallow breathing, with many also experiencing panic attacks. When cortisol levels are elevated, the heart also pumps faster, and blood vessels are constricted. Studies suggest that high cortisol levels linked to chronic stress and anxiety can lead to an increase in blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and blood glucose. All of these are recognized as risk factors for heart disease.
2. Muscular System
You’ve probably noticed that when you are tense or anxious your shoulders feel tight and you may suffer from headaches. This is because the muscles in your body also tense up in response to stress. The muscles only relax once your stress levels start to drop. If your stress is chronic, the muscles are constantly tight and this increases the likelihood of headaches, back, neck, and shoulder pain, and body aches. This can also increase the risk of muscle injuries and reduce recovery time.
3. Increased Risk of Infection
In small doses, stress hormones can have a stimulating effect on the immune system, helping deal with immediate threats. When these hormones are chronically elevated it has the opposite effect, weakening your immune response. This increases vulnerability to pathogens, making you more likely to suffer from frequent infections with longer recovery time. This risk is not based on speculation. Studies show that people who suffer from chronic stress and anxiety disorders are more susceptible to common infections like the cold and flu.
4. Risk of Chronic Inflammatory Disorders
The stress hormones trigger inflammation, which is part of your body’s immune response. This normally helps fight infections and promotes wound healing. When dealing with chronic stress and anxiety however, there is a constant state of low-grade inflammation. Researchers now know that inflammation is the main contributing factor to all stress-related diseases, from diabetes to cardiac disease. This also has a direct impact on chronic pain and inflammatory disorders like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and IBS. Not only do patients experience flare ups with higher frequency and greater severity under stress and anxiety, but the risk of developing such conditions is also higher.
5. Digestive Health
The cardiorespiratory effects of stress can also impact your digestive system, increasing the likelihood of acid reflux and heartburn. Studies indicate that stress can alter gastrointestinal movements and digestion, triggering a variety of conditions from diarrhea and nausea to constipation. More worrying is the impact of stress on your liver. It increases the production of glucose for a burst of energy, but when stress and anxiety are constantly high, blood glucose levels will also remain elevated. This is why anxiety and chronic stress are linked to a high risk of type-2 diabetes.
Whether you’re a single mom or have a supportive spouse, it’s hard to put aside time for self-care. However, even the smallest changes can make a difference. Try to start and end your day with meditation, try aromatherapy, take up yoga, treat yourself to a hot soak in the tub, and pamper yourself with a luxurious bubble bath using the amazing products Mom Bomb offers at www.buybombshelpmoms.com.