Stress Awareness Month: What Can Stress Cause Long-Term?
Stress affects everyone. Whether it’s stress from work, juggling a busy schedule, raising a family, managing interpersonal relationships, or any number of other triggers, it’s something we encounter every day. While our bodies are equipped to handle stress in doses, it can lead to more severe health concerns if left unchecked.
This year, in observance of National Stress Awareness Month, we’re looking at how stress affects your health and giving you ideas for how to reduce stress all year round. Follow this guide to become aware of what can cause stress and ways to avoid potential long-term effects.
National Stress Awareness Month
April has been officially recognized as National Stress Awareness Month. This month-long observance aims to raise awareness of how stress affects your health and potential stress related health problems that can arise if it goes unchecked.
This year, you can observe National Stress Awareness Month by identifying your most common stressors and implementing ways to help alleviate them. While we can’t simply shirk responsibilities that may be catalysts for some of our stress, we can look to stress relief methods to guide us away from what stress can cause.
How Stress Affects Your Health
The human body is capable of handling stress on occasion. For example, our fight-or-flight instincts are a direct result of spikes in cortisol levels, a naturally-produced “stress” hormone. It’s important to recognize how stress affects your health, however.
Wondering what health problems can stress cause? Unfortunately, it affects all our bodily systems. Some of the long-term effects of stress on the body include:
- Mental health problems: Chronic stress can take a major toll on our mental health, increasing the risk of developing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or even personality disorders.
- Obesity or eating disorders: Many people experience issues with how to stop stress eating or may lose their appetite entirely due to stress. This can result in struggles with obesity or other eating disorders that are harmful to your health.
- Heart disease: Stress impacts the cardiovascular system, raising blood pressure and putting you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
- Pregnancy issues: Lowering stress levels is one of the important methods for how to avoid complications during pregnancy. It’s a leading cause of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia. Elevated stress levels put both the mother and baby at risk.
- Sexual health: Long-term stress may lead to sexual health issues such as a loss of libido, menstruation issues, or impotence.
- Skin complications: Ongoing elevated stress levels may result in skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis. It directly impacts your skincare routine and makes it difficult to achieve radiant skin.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Stress causes many people to have issues with digestion, GERD, or other intestinal conditions.
Ways to Reduce Stress
So, what can stress cause? The answer to that question is a plethora of potential negative health conditions. This is why the primary function of National Stress Awareness Month is to learn how stress affects your health and make an actionable plan for lifestyle changes to support stress relief.
Take a look at these ideas for how to manage stress levels and think about how they can be implemented during National Stress Awareness Month and all year long:
- Recognizing stress triggers
- Reducing screen time
- Starting health habits and routines
- Learning to accept things you cannot change
- Avoiding procrastination
Recognizing Stress Triggers
Take time this National Stress Awareness Month to identify and note stress triggers in your life. Sometimes they’re obvious, such as a stressful job or balancing busy schedules. Other times they may be more subtle and surprising. Following emotional wellness tips for checking in with yourself may help you recognize something that is impacting your stress levels more than you realized.
Reducing Screen Time
This entry on our list of ways to reduce stress may sound strange, but screen time can have a direct impact on your stress levels in a variety of ways.
First, increased screen time, especially at night, can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm, making it more challenging to fall asleep or stay asleep. Reducing screen time before bed may help with how to get more restorative sleep and have you awaken feeling ready to take on each day.
Another reason reduced screen time may help with how stress affects your health is from your subconscious mental health state. Less screen time allows your brain to slow down and focus on tasks without as much distraction. This enhances your ability to focus, which lets your mind process feelings and emotions more efficiently. Ever wonder why you tend to become more stressed, irritable, or emotional when you’re feeling tired? It’s because your brain needs to rest, too.
Starting Health Habits and Routines
Reducing screen time is the perfect segue into starting healthy habits and routines this National Stress Awareness Month. According to a 2021 study, a new habit takes about 59 days to become automatic. This means starting new habits this month will have them cemented in your daily routine before summer!
Consider a morning routine like taking a few minutes to meditate, journal, or even sit quietly as you enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea. Starting out your morning with a calming exercise like this kicks things off on the right foot. Getting up just a little early will also keep you from feeling rushed to get everything done before you need to leave the house to go to work or handle whatever tasks face you that day.
A relaxing night time routine can help you unwind after your day and have stress melt away before bed. This is especially important for those who may be struggling with common sleep disorders like insomnia due to elevated stress levels. Taking a warm shower, a calming bath, or reading are all excellent ideas for a night time routine.
Many people have also turned to pair morning or night time routines with a zero gravity chair. These chairs are designed to provide a plethora of potential health benefits ranging from stress relief and better blood circulation to alleviating back pain and improving sleep quality. The possible health benefits of zero gravity chairs make them ideal candidates not only to help reduce stress levels and how stress affects your health, but to reverse course and get you back to optimal health.
Learn to Accept Things You Cannot Change
What can stress cause? It can cause the imminent need to acknowledge that you can’t change everything. In fact, learning to let go of some of the things you cannot change is not only good for your mental health, but may improve your physical health, too.
Constant stress can produce feelings of anxiety as well as physical ailments like ulcers, stomach pains, or upset digestive systems. Recognizing when you cannot change the outcome of a situation can help lower your stress level and help you see it from a new perspective. Instead of trying to change the outcome, you may find new and insightful ways to manage it without feeling as much pressure.
Never leave for tomorrow what you can do today, right? While there are times it’s best to simply set something aside and revisit it with fresh eyes, oftentimes our sources of stress stem from procrastination.
Instead of leaving something to the last minute and feeling the stress to complete it all at once, consider breaking projects or tasks down into smaller, more manageable portions. Not only does this help with how stress affects your health, but it may also improve your overall productivity since you won’t feel as burnt out and stressed while you complete tasks.
Last, but not least, finding ways to volunteer may help with how to reduce stress levels. Doing good for others and giving back to the community benefits our environment as a whole, but also improves our own mental health.
You don’t need to limit yourself to only volunteering during National Stress Awareness Month, either. Instead, try a few places out and see what resonates with you best and make a commitment to yourself to volunteer there on a regular basis. This schedule can be anything you like, but making a plan for consistency keeps you accountable and could compound its benefits on your stress levels.
As you observe National Stress Awareness Month this April, take a look at how stress impacts your life, where it stems from, and the opportunities you have to make things better. Identifying areas of improvement will have a profound impact on your overall well-being and may reduce or eliminate long-term negative effects on stress in your life.
Ready to make your home an oasis for stress relief? Check out these zero gravity chair models to learn more about how they’ll be a positive impact on your lifestyle.