The Effects of Stress on Your Health

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 7/21/2015 10:33 AM by Interim HealthCare
Stress affects people of every age and creed. Whether it is caused by your children, money, health or social issues, stress is part of daily life. Nobody likes stress, is your reaction to it causing health issues? A new study shows that how someone reacts to stress can affect his or her health.
 
Stress may cause health problems
In the study published in Health Psychology, researchers from Pennsylvania State University discovered that people who deal poorly with stress increase their risk of inflammation, which in turn can lead to various health problems. Elevated levels of inflammation may contribute to obesity, heart disease and cancer.
 
"A person's frequency of stress may be less related to inflammation than responses to stress," said Nancy Sin, a postdoctoral research fellow at Penn State and the study's lead author. "It is how a person reacts to stress that is important."
 
The investigators talked to 827 adults in the National Study of Daily Experiences, which is part of the Midlife in the United States survey. For eight consecutive days, the participants reported their daily stressors and emotional responses to the researchers via telephone. Each night, they rated their emotions and described any stressful situations throughout the day. Blood samples were also taken to be examined for inflammatory markers.
 
Women were more likely to have high levels of inflammatory markers, which may put them at an elevated risk of developing chronic illnesses. Inflammation from sporadic stressful scenarios can be dealt with by the immune system. However, extended periods of stress may lead to age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. These ailments can transition to more serious ones, like Alzheimer's disease.
 
Happiness reduces stress

According to the American Institute of Stress, the immune system weakens as people age, which makes it more difficult for the body to fight inflammation. When seniors are stressed, they may be more susceptible to biological and transmitted diseases. Chronic stress increases the body's production of cortisol, which raises blood sugar and blood pressure and makes it harder for the immune system to battle infections. An overabundance of cortisol also affects cells and may lead to cancer, memory loss and other diseases.
 
However, seniors aren't known for being the happiest people on Earth for nothing. Their ability to maintain a positive outlook on life allows them to better deal with stress. Of course, even older people have trouble handling stress on occasion, but taking some of the following measures can help manage it.
  • Live healthfully - Exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet boosts endorphins, which lead to happier moods. Working out can even help block the effects of cortisol levels, HealthDay explained. A healthy lifestyle keeps seniors fit and improves their ability to deal with stress.
  • Be social - Almost nothing puts people in better moods than being surrounded by their friends and family. Taking part in daily outings or joining in on community activities boosts self-esteem and reduces stress, according to the American Psychological Association. Stable relationships give people a support system, which shows them they don't have to handle stress on their own. It may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, HealthDay claimed.
  • Focus on solutions - Stress happens, but seniors shouldn't let it control their lives. They should focus on solving the problems instead of feeling like they can't do anything about them, the APA suggested. If seniors don't let stressful situations influence the rest of their lives, they'll be happier and more equipped to handle any challenges that come their way.
Stress can put pressure on anyone. However, how people handle it can affect their moods, health and behavior. If seniors can focus on the positive and avoid the negative emotions associated with stress, they may have happier and healthier lives.

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