Stress harms you in many ways. It’s a stressful world. Being time-crunched, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed at work does not produce good health. To deal with stress, learn the ways stress harms you.
10 Ways Stress Harms You
Financial Stress Can Make You Look Older
A study published in July 2016 in the journal Research on Aging finds that people with elevated levels of financial stress looked older and appeared to have aged more after nine years than people with a higher level of confidence in their financial control.
Stress May Negatively Affect Women’s Fertility
Research finds that stress lowers a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant, particularly stress experienced around ovulation. Stress disrupts the signaling between the brain and ovaries, reducing the chance of ovulation.
Stress Can Make Tou Fat
Stress buildup can pack on weight. That’s the finding of researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, who say that stress triggers a hormone called Adams1 which generates fat in the human body. In addition to increasing your waistline, this stress-induced fat also accumulates around organs like the pancreas and liver, which increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Stress May Wipe Out the Benefits of a Healthy Diet in Women
Researchers at Ohio State University found that the previous day’s stressful events eradicated any health benefits women might have gained from eating a healthier breakfast rich in “good” monounsaturated fats. The study’s lead researcher, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, said stress complicates how the body processes food.
Early-life Stress Exposure Can Lead to Adult Illnesses
Researchers at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, studied zebrafish embryos chronically exposed to the stress hormone cortisol for just a few days. They developed into adults with signs of chronic inflammation and abnormal immune systems. Early-life exposure to chronically elevated levels of cortisol results in lasting developmental changes affecting processes in adult life that are critical to immune system function and regulation.
Stress May Have the Greatest Toll on Younger Women with Heart Disease
A study of 700 men and women with heart disease found that stress was harder on women aged 50 or younger. They were four times more than men of the same age or older women to have reduced blood flow to the heart. Reduced blood flow can often lead to a heart attack. The study suggested that younger women who juggle work, family, and financial responsibilities and routinely feel stressed need better assessing life’s stressors and more support in coping with them.
Prolonged Stress Affects Short-Term Memory
A study from the University of Iowa found a potential link between stress hormones and short-term memory loss in older adults. Elevated levels of cortisol – a natural hormone present in the body that surges when a person is stressed—are the culprit. Short-term cortisol spikes help a person cope and respond to life’s challenges, but abnormal spikes like those experienced during long-term stress can wreak havoc on memory by “weathering the brain.”
Stress is Linked to Breast Cancer
Researchers at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey studied a link between stress and breast cancer, specifically in the p53 protein. The protein, researchers said, reacts to large numbers of stress signals. If p53 becomes malformed, it could spark an uncontrollable reaction, causing cells to reproduce continuously. Those cells would be considered cancerous.
About one in eight women will develop aggressive breast cancer throughout their lifetime. According to the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, more than 40,000 women are expected to die in 2016 due to breast cancer.
Depression, Emotional stress May Cause Type-2 Diabetes
Longitudinal studies suggest that depression and general emotional stress are associated with an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
Emotional Stress is a Trigger for Eczema
The National Eczema Foundation cautions that emotional stress is one of the common triggers for eczema, although it is not known why. Some people’s eczema worsens when they realize they’re stressed, while others get stressed because they have eczema, and their flare-up worsens.
Other Ways Stress Harms You
Note that this is not an all-inclusive list of how stress harms you. Research continues to uncover how untreated stress punishes the body and mind.
If you’re plagued by chronic stress, find effective ways to cope. This may include getting professional help, although there are many approaches you can take on your own, including meditation, mindful walking, prioritizing tasks, deep breathing, guided imagery, and more.
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