5 Ways Stress Affects Your Health

In today’s world it’s hard to not get stressed out. While a bit of stress isn’t too unhealthy, chronic stress can be damaging to your health. Yoga instructor and health expert Mary Alvarez is constantly teaching her clients the importance of reducing the stress in their lives. “Stress can really weigh you down,” she says. “People don’t realize how much stress is actually affecting their bodies.” Alvarez shares with us five ways stress can hurt our bodies, and how you can help reduce it. 

1. Stress: Yoga

Stress Ages You

If you’re like the majority of us who are trying to prevent aging, you might want to think about de-stressing a bit. “They call them stress lines for a reason!” says Alvarez, “People usually associate grey hair with aging, but stress can accelerate the line formation on your face as well.”

Solution:  Try yoga! A recent study found that yoga may help prevent aging because certain poses increase circulation in the face. “Downward dog and child’s pose are great poses to prevent aging,” Alvarez says. 

2. Stress: Meditation

Stress Makes You Sick

Cold and flu season is starting to kick off, which is yet another reason to lessen the stress in your life. “Stress can definitely make you sick,” Alvarez said. “Stress triggers inflammation in the body which weakens the immune system. Taking the time to relax can definitely help with this.”

Solution: Try meditation. Research shows that daily meditation may help prevent seasonal colds due to the fact that it helps relieve stress. Start off with five minutes of daily meditation and build up from there. 

3. Stress: Exercise

Stress Can Make You Gain Weight

Eating a healthy diet but still not losing weight? You may want to check your stress levels. Long-term stress leads to elevated cortisol and insulin levels, which can contribute to weight gain. “High cortisol levels can cause weight gain especially in the abdominal area,” explains Alvarez. “In addition to that, stress can mess with your appetite making you less hungry at times, which means you’re more likely to binge eat later.”

Solution: Fit in some daily exercise. Working out is not only a great way to lose weight and stay in shape, but it can also help relieve stress. Even as little as 20 minutes a day can help, so get up and start moving! 

4. Stress: Fruits & Veggies

Stress Has Been Linked To Cancer and Other Diseases

Numerous research studies have linked stress to cancer and other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and depression. “While stress doesn’t cause these diseases, it’s definitely a contributor,” she says. “I have some clients who struggle with asthma, and they always say their condition flares-up when they are stressed out.”

Solution: Add more fruits and veggies to your diet. Research has found that a diet high is fruits and vegetables may help prevent many chronic diseases. Plus, eating right will make you feel better about yourself, which can help knock off some stress in your life. “When I eat good, I feel good,” Alvarez said. 

5. Stress: Dates

Stress Can Damage Your Relationships

Stressed out all the time? Chances are your relationship is paying the price. People who are stressed are more likely to be on edge all the time, which can take a toll on your loved ones. “When we’re stressed out we tend to snap at people,” Alvarez said. “I’ve been there, and done it myself, and I always feel so bad about it after.”

Solution: Make time for you significant other. Since being stressed can cause a wedge in your relationship, spending some time together may be just what the doctor ordered, “Going out on a date and relaxing with some wine and good food is a great way to escape from our stressful lives,” says Alvarez. “I think if more people took the time to go on dates, and spend time with each other, we would be less stressed out!”