Stress

Stress is bumper-to-bumper traffic when you're in a hurry. It's a worrisome illness, an argument with your partner, a job turning sour. It's the need to care for an ailing parent and a pile of unpaid bills.

Stress has many faces, and creeps into our lives from many directions. No matter what causes it, stress puts the body and the mind on edge. It floods the body with stress hormones. The heart pounds. Muscles tense. Breathing quickens. The stomach churns.

The body's response to stress was honed in our prehistory. Collectively called the "fight-or-flight" response, it has helped humans survive threats like animal attacks, fires, floods, and conflict with other humans. Today, obvious dangers like those aren't the main things that trigger the stress response. Any situation you perceive as threatening, or which requires you to adjust to a change, can set it off. And that can spell trouble.

Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. It can dampen the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other common infections. It can contribute to asthma, digestive disorders, cancer, and other health problems. New research even supports the notion that high levels of stress somehow speed up the aging process.

Though stress is inevitable, you can help control your body's response to it. Exercise, meditation, invoking the relaxation response, and mindfulness are great stress busters.

Stress Articles

Sexual and gender minorities face unique health risks

Sexual and gender minorities may have higher risks of certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. A new study also found that they may be at higher risk for dementia.  There are strategies that can mitigate this risk, including adopting health habits proven to promote heart health, such as a healthy diet, regular screening exams and frequent exercise. Experts also recommend addressing mental health problems quickly and finding a LGBT-friendly provider. (Locked) More »

Take a breather

Focused, deep breathing may help people manage stress, which can lower their risk of heart disease. Two popular techniques include alternate-nostril breathing and diaphragmatic or belly breathing. Both techniques have been shown to decrease blood pressure and increase heart rate variability, a measure of the variation in time between heartbeats. A high heart rate variability, which suggests greater flexibility and resilience, is linked to a healthier, longer life. (Locked) More »

Difficult relationships linked to bone loss

Stressful interpersonal relationships may be linked to bone loss in women, according to a new study. Women who reported higher levels of stress saw bigger reductions in bone density than women who reported less stress. More »

A purpose-driven life may last longer

Having a purpose in life may help improve health, according to a new study. Study authors found that people who have a strong life purpose were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and other conditions than people who don’t. Volunteering, contributing to the well-being of family members, and hobbies are all things that people report give them purpose in life. (Locked) More »

Winning the weight battle after menopause

Changes in hormone levels just before and during menopause may cause women to gain weight and to store more weight around their middle, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle changes can help, but they may not always be enough to make a difference. Some women may need to seek out assistance from a weight-loss professional. (Locked) More »

Simple strategies to stop stress-related overeating

People who are under stress often gain weight because of biological reactions, including an increase in the hormone cortisol. Taking steps to reduce stress can help people avoid weight gain. These might include getting a good night’s sleep, planning ahead during stressful times and seeking out help from your doctor or a specialist. (Locked) More »

The power of forgiveness

Almost everyone has experienced being wronged by a person or group. Dwelling on those events and reliving them over and over can fill a person’s mind with negative thoughts. The REACH method can help a person practice forgiveness, thereby reducing levels of stress and anxiety and increasing self-esteem and feelings of optimism. More »