Stress is a contributing factor to heart disease, the leading killer of Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though researchers are still trying to determine exactly how much of a negative impact stress has on our bodies, they do know it can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Even worse, some of the ways that people cope with stress—overeating, smoking, drinking, lack of physical activity, etc.—can lead to a higher risk of heart disease as well. These “coping mechanisms” can increase blood pressure, increase unhealthy body fat, and damage artery walls due to an increase in adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes heart rate and breathing to speed up. Not only does stress affect your heart health, it also affects other areas of your body. It can lead to headaches, stomach pains, back/neck strain, lack of energy, forgetfulness, cranky/irritable, and decrease sleep.
Fortunately, there are simple measures that people can take to reduce the negative impact of stress. These include maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking too much coffee or alcohol, not smoking, exercising, enjoying a healthy diet, and maintaining a positive attitude. Some medicines can be helpful for managing stress, but doctors state that it is far better in the long term to learn how to manage stress on your own through techniques like relaxation, meditation, or others rather than rely on medicine.
However, it is important to not confuse stress with anxiety. Stress and anxiety are different, and it is important to figure out exactly which one is affecting you. If you suffer or think you might have anxiety, please speak with a doctor to determine a treatment and management plan, that might include medication. Figuring out what you are dealing with, is a crucial step to helping you dealing and overcoming it.