With people needing to work more, save more, and find more time just to manage schedules, stress is becoming a chronic ailment for most people. Without recognizing the effects of stress and not having a stress management plan in place, this negative energy can produce physiology and psychological health hazards. Here is our top reasons why it is so important to reduce and manage stress.
1) Prolonged Stress Weakens the Immune System
Studies have shown that prolonged stress presents strain on the cellular functions that support the immune system. Stress causes hormone imbalances, poor sleep patterns, and wears down on organs. Suppressed immune function readily leads to increased sickness and reduced ability to combat ailments.
2) Stress Promotes Unwanted Weight Gain
Some resources suggest that increased hormone cortisol levels related to stress cause weight gain. No studies have concluded that this increased cortisol level does increase weight gain and studies suggest that the increased levels of cortisol in short to medium stress periods are insufficient for creating weight gain. However, chronic prolonged periods of stress (in terms of years) still present some possible argument towards a correlation between weight gain and stress. There is however still a strong correlation between stress and weight gain. This correlation suggests that ongoing stress patterns generate poor nutrition habits, increased use of food as a support system, and improper meal schedules.
3) Stress Hinders Proper Sleep
Studies have shown that elevations in stress-related hormones increase the prevalence of insomnia. This increase in sleep disorders was shown to be even more prevalent as people age as the sensitivity to stress-related hormones increases as we get older. Studies have also shown that people who focus on the emotions and anxiety stemming from stress more often suffered from shortened sleep and encountered more sleep deprivation issues.
4) Stress Creates Musculoskeletal and Physiological Imbalances
Stress is a highly tacking process that depletes energy from bodily systems affecting work and activity performance. Stress is often a culprit for generating muscle tension throughout the body. This muscle tension is most commonly experienced in the spine with discomfort radiating through the neck, back, and shoulders. Neck tension is often diagnosed as the source of many headaches. Stress also greatly affects digestive function, reproductive organ health, and hormone balance. One can see how readily stress generates hormone and energy imbalances especially for those who have skin disorders like acne and eczema.
5) Stress Reduces Quality of Life and Social Relationships
Most people have difficulty managing stress and associate themselves with the factors causing this stress. Without managing stress, this negative energy manifests into emotions and physical reactions. As social beings, others encountering someone else's stress manifestations will either facilitate these stress reactions further (like attracts like) making the environment even worse. Or, those who are sensitive to others' stress responses will choose to remove themselves from this social environment. Stress can adversely affect our relationships with others causing us to lose healthy relationships and foster further negative social relationships.
The first element in managing stress is to become sensitive to the physical responses that stress creates. Emotions and physical sensations (tension, lack of breath, headaches, low energy) are clear signs that we can monitor and use as tools to help us make changes when needed. When stress responses are apparent, we can stop, breath, and observe. How relevant and true is my allowance for this stress to enter and act on my mind and body? I may not be able to remove myself from the external stressors, but I can dissociate myself from these factors causing stress and not become bound to them. As we become more accustomed to recognizing stress, we can then engage in stress management activities like exercise, yoga, meditation, Yoga Nidra and relaxation programs offering great physical and mental benefits.
Kreg Weiss is a co-founder of My Yoga Online and certified Hatha Yoga Teacher. Several years ago, Kreg discovered yoga while teaching health and fitness. Yoga dramatically transformed Kreg's approach to teaching health and wellness as well as changed his personal life bringing new direction in finding physical, mental, and spiritual growth.