Stress Can Make You Sick
We’re about three months into the Covid-19 challenge and almost every aspect of our lives has changed, and it’s been stressful for everyone. While stress is a natural part of the body’s existence, it is typically an occasional emotion, not a constant one that can produce some unpleasant symptoms.
Anything that disrupts what we consider to be the normal routines of our life in a negative way can cause stress. Stress increases the production of several hormones in the body, including cortisol, known as the “stress” hormone. If these past weeks have really gotten to you, and you’re just not able to get your mind to a place that accepts current restrictions, there’s a chance you’re creating a series of mental and physical conditions that may make things even worse over time. Here are some of the problems that you may face or exacerbate if you allow stress to rule your life:
- high blood pressureand heart disease
- a dramatic increase or decrease in appetite resulting in weight gain or loss
- increased acid refluxand heartburnproblems
- diarrhea or constipation
- an increase in the use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs
What’s very important to know about stress is that in most cases, it can be addressed and treated at home by making a few changes to your activities and schedule. Here are a few simple things you can do to help you get through your day and reduce your stress level:
- Get regular physical activity: Exercising – walking or biking for at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week may help and it’s good for your body and mind.
- Get enough sleep:Sleeping well at night can help a person feel refreshed. If you have difficulty sleeping well, cut back on or avoid caffeine and alcohol, avoid smoking in the evenings, sleep in a cool room and refrain from using electronic devices – iPhones, computers or tablets – during the hour before bed.
- Try alternative medicine techniques:Do easy yoga exercises you can find online, or if you have a significant other, consider a back & neck massage to help you relax tense muscles.
- Set priorities: Shift your mindset away from focusing on what you have to do to what you have accomplished. This time may be a great opportunity to do things you’ve been putting off, like cleaning out a closet or the garage, painting a room or working in your garden.
- Connect with others. Talking to loved ones by phone or if you have a built in audio/video capability on a computer or tablet, using Skype or Google Hangouts is a “live” connection that can help you to feel and stay connected. Sending emails with photos is also something most of us have the ability to do. These programs & instructions are easy and can be found on Google.
- Most importantly – Do not be afraid to seek help from others including professionals. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or are considering harming yourself call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 to seek emergency medical attention.
Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on Issues of Aging. He can be contacted at 828-696-9799 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.