Stress can be defined as a physical, mental, or emotional state, resulting in tension throughout the body. When the body senses danger or a threat, it releases adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, preparing to react quickly to the situation.
Under normal circumstances, this reaction is good. It is what has helped us survive in less modern times. However, when the body is under constant stress, it can be detrimental to our health and lead to chronic disease. In fact, “around 75%-90% of doctor visits in the United States are in some way related to stress (disturbmenot.co).”
The global COVID-19 pandemic has been and continues to be, a significant source of stress among individuals. Worrying about the future of the economy and the health of family and friends are taking a toll on individuals’ stress levels.
At WellAge Senior Living, with communities throughout Colorado, we promote the overall health and wellness of those who call us home. We offer a number of services and activities for stress management that care for the mind, body, and spirit.
Not only does chronic stress weaken the immune system, a crucial part in the prevention of other diseases, but it also makes it that much easier to develop other illnesses. A weakened immune system is a gateway for the development of a disease. Because of this “snowball effect,” stress management is crucial to overall health and wellness.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are becoming more and more common, and stress is a contributing factor. According to the Mental Health Foundation, “51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed, and 61% reported feeling anxious.” Additionally, R. Morgan Griffin, writer for WebMD, states, “one survey of recent studies found that people who had stress…had an 80% higher risk of developing depression within a few years than people with lower stress.”
Both depression and anxiety take a significant toll on our mental health and affect our daily lives. Proper stress management is key when it comes to reducing the risk of developing depression and anxiety symptoms.
Headaches and Migraines
Stress causes tension throughout the body. This tension tightens muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders, resulting in tension headaches and even migraines.
Mayo Clinic reports, “headaches are more likely to occur when you’re stressed. Stress is a common trigger of tension-type headaches and migraine, and can trigger other types of headaches or make them worse.”
Headaches and migraines alter how we live our lives; limiting our involvement in responsibilities and activities we enjoy to only “good” days or headache-free days. If stress triggers headaches for you, do what you can to lower your stress levels to improve your overall quality of life.
Like cortisol, stress releases cholesterol and triglycerides into the bloodstream, leading to plaque buildup in the bloodstream and increasing the risk of heart attacks and other heart problems. Researchers and doctors have known that emotional, chronic stress directly influences high blood pressure and heart attacks. In fact, “individuals who are under constant stress are 20% more likely to have heart disease.”
Individuals affected by current heart issues need to avoid stress as much as possible and implement stress management techniques into their daily lives.
A recent study found that stress may worsen Alzheimer’s disease and stimulate the progression of the disease since stress causes the brain lesions that trigger Alzheimer’s to form more quickly. However, stress management and lowering stress levels may combat this and slow down the disease’s progression.
Practice Stress Management
We encourage you to find outlets that alleviate feelings of stress, promote overall wellness, and improve mental and physical health. Whether through an activity like yoga or meditation, or something more creative like painting or writing, finding ways to clear your mind and refocus can have short-term and long-term health benefits.
WellAge Senior Living can help you in your wellness journey. Our total approach to wellness extends beyond diet and exercise. Through social and life enrichment programs, integrative wellness, and community services, our communities aid in the well-being of every individual staying with us. Contact WellAge to learn more about our communities and the services we offer!