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Stress has become a part of every day life. Many Americans today are stressed out. They are often managing households, working, supporting families, and juggling many more responsibilities, all of which can cause tension and anxiety. Anything from a fender-bender to a looming deadline can cause stress in the body which triggers a series of well-coordinated reactions in the body. Even though stressors have evolved over time, our body’s reaction to them has not evolved.

Many adults under significant amounts of pressure do not take the necessary steps that might help alleviate their stress, such as enjoying a massage or taking up exercise. When stressors are long-term the stress-response system stays on and cna negatively affect most body processes. What’s worse is that stress can manifest in damaging, sometimes serious health complications.

stress impact on health

Ways Stress Negatively Affects Your Health

Stress can cost you sleep.

Sleep allows our brain to rest and our body to recharge making it one of the most vital elements of health, and not getting enough of it can cause serious health problems, such as depression, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  Feeling stressed out increases your physiological and psychological arousal in ways that are incompatible with the state your body and mind need to enter relaxed, restorative sleep. As a result, stress prevents sleep and robs your body and mind of sleep’s healing properties. In fact, people who suffer from chronic stress day in and day out sleep less, have poorer sleep quality, and find it harder to function well during the day.

Stress can cause a wide range of physical health problems.

The “fight or flight” response to stress evolved as a survival mechanism for humans so we could react quickly to life-threatening situations, helping us to fight off danger or escape to safety. Unfortunately, our body has not adapted to the increase in non-life threatening stressors in the world and our body still reacts the same way. As a result, different areas of our body respond negatively to this constant state of “flight or fight.” Ulcers are a well-known byproduct of stress, but lesser-known complications include heart attack, stroke, obesity, irritable colon, menstrual disorders, eczema and psoriasis, immune system disorders, autoimmune diseases, and a number of viral disorders ranging from the common cold to certain cancers.

Stress can also cause a broad assortment of mental health problems.

If you are under constant stress it can start to impact your mental health. Everyone responds to stress differently and while some people experience physical health issues, for others stress negatively impacts their mental health. According to the American Psychological Association’s latest stress survey 63 percent experience psychological symptoms. Stress triggers a number of mental and emotional issues, such as depression, anxiety, headaches and migraines, irritability, and personality changes.

Stress can lead to unhealthy habits.

Many people aim to self-treat their stress with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, which can make a bad situation worse—instead of helping the body release stress, these substances only serve to keep the body in a stressed state.  The brain likes to handle long-term stress by releasing different types of hormones such as cortisol which is a hunger hormone. This is why others overeat to soothe their anxiety, which also causes a myriad of complications including low self-esteem, which then causes more stress in a vicious cycle.

How to Combat Stress?

There may not be a way to eliminate stress from your life but there are many ways to lower your levels of stress and reduce the negative affects of it on your physical and mental health. From meditation to breathing techniques to working out there are plenty of options to reduce stress. Our favorite and recommended method to reducing stress – regular massages.

Massage is a fantastic way to combat the negative impacts of stress on the body because virtually every symptom listed by the American Psychological Association can benefit from massage. Studies have shown that a single massage session can lower your heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels — all of which explain why massage therapy and stress relief go hand-in-hand.

West Garden Spa in New York City offers a number of stress-relieving spa treatments, including soft tissue, Shiatsu, Asian massage and Swedish massage. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please give us a call at (212) 244-7711. We are open most days from 10am – 2am and are conveniently located minutes from Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan.