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

Building strength before surgery may ease recovery

Prehabilitation is increasingly being used to ready older or frail adults for surgery, in hopes of hastening the recovery process. This approach uses a combination of strategies including exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle support to help people improve their health before a physically stressful event. Physicians typically tailor these programs to the needs of the individual. (Locked) More »

Can hot baths protect your heart?

A study published March 24, 2020, by the journal Heart found that people who took a daily warm or hot bath had a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 26% lower risk of stroke, compared with people who didn’t take frequent tub baths. More »

Crucial ways you can support a healthy immune system

There’s no evidence that maintaining a healthy lifestyle will suddenly boost the immune system. However, it’s clear that healthy lifestyle habits contribute to overall health, supporting the body’s ability to fight infections instead of creating new problems. Healthy habits that help maintain a robust immune system include getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, exercising, reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, drinking alcohol only in moderation, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting underlying conditions under control. (Locked) More »

Prepare for prehab

Although there is much emphasis placed on a person’s recovery after a complex medical procedure or surgery, it is equally important to focus on health beforehand. Preparing both the body and mind for an invasive medical procedure can help avoid setbacks, reduce complications, and speed up recovery. (Locked) More »

Surviving tumultuous times

Traumatic events in the world or personal life can take a toll on mental health. Strategies such as limiting news about the event, taking an active role in the problem, and reframing the event in more positive terms can help people endure the event and successfully move on. People may need to get professional health help if sadness and stress lead to a mood disorder, such as depression. More »

5 ways to prevent a heart attack

The average age of a first heart attack among men is 65. However, many people don’t take steps to protect themselves. Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is the best way to guard against heart attacks and includes avoiding tobacco, managing cholesterol and blood pressure levels, getting proper sleep, and lowering stress. (Locked) More »

Looking for a mellow form of exercise? Try tai chi

Tai chi is a slow, flowing form of exercise that’s sometimes described as “meditation in motion.“ It can be a good gateway exercise for people who cannot or will not engage in more conventional types of exercise. Tai chi may help lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and dampen inflammation, all of which are linked to better heart health. Tai chi may also be a promising addition to cardiac rehabilitation. More »

Top 7 reasons you have a headache

Migraine, tension, and cluster headaches can have many triggers. For example, stress can cause tight muscles in the shoulders and neck, which often leads to tension headaches; hunger can trigger a migraine or tension headache; and something in the environment may trigger a cluster headache. Understanding headache triggers can help people avoid headaches in the future. Keeping a diary to note the day, time, symptoms, and circumstances surrounding a headache may help; so can living a healthy lifestyle. (Locked) More »

Longer work week, higher blood pressure

People who worked 49 or more hours each week were more likely to have high blood pressure than workers who were on the job fewer than 35 hours a week. This difference remained after taking into account other risk factors for high blood pressure. More »