The Impact of Stress on our Health

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The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. – James Allen

iStock_000010265267Small-1The stress caused from constantly being under pressure can be dangerous as highlighted in this Huffington Post article (  Here is an overview of some of the key findings.

It Shrinks the Brain

A study by Yale University suggests that stressful events such as going through a divorce or being laid off can actually shrink the brain The reduced gray matter  (potentially signaling future psychiatric problems) occurs in regions linked to emotion and physiological functions.

Stress and Cancer

Research shows that managing that stress could improve outcomes of the disease. Researchers at the University of Miami found that undergoing a Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management program seemed to have a positive effect on breast cancer patients’ immune system cells.

A recent animal study (Wake Forest University) showed that stress could help cancer cells survive against anti-cancer drugs.

Could Affect Your Offspring’s Genes

The effects of stress on a person’s genes may be passed on from generation to generation, according to a recent Science study.  This suggests that the effects of stress not only impact the person but may also impact the person’s offspring too.

May Contribute to Depressive Symptons

A study in mice suggests stress could play a role in the development of depression. I think the findings fit well with the idea that stress can cause depression or that stressful situations can precipitate depression,” study researcher Heather Cameron, chief of neuroplasticity at the NIMH, told TIME.

Increases the Risk of Chronic Diseases

People who were more stressed out and anxious about the stresses of everyday life were, in turn, more likely to have chronic health conditions (such as heart problems or arthritis) 10 years later, compared with people who viewed things through a more relaxed lens.

Raises Stroke and Heart Attack Risk

Stressed-out people may have a higher stroke risk than their more mellowed-out peers, according to an observational study.  Feeling anxious and stressed is linked with a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack — the same effect smoking five cigarettes a day has on the heart, the New York Daily News reported.

Lowers Immune Function

Research shows that stress has an impact on our immune systems, with one recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences even showing it can make colds worse. That’s because when you are stressed, your body produces more cortisol, which can then wreak havoc on your body’s inflammatory processes.

Here are some tips on managing stress:

  • Take deep breaths to calm your mind and give you perspective
  • Understand your triggers and take a 6 second pause
  • Visualise a peaceful place – thinking about or looking at a peaceful place will allow you to be present and help manage your emotions return moment
  • Change your emotional state by going for a walking, stretching and doing something different with your body
  • Play music

What other techniques do you use to manage your stress?