We throw around the term stress quite a bit, but what does it really mean? Stress is a complex set of emotional and physical reactions to demands or threats that are placed on you. Millions of years ago, your stressor might have been a giant lizard that chased you in search of a meal. Today, it could be three work projects, all due at the same time.
Not all stress is bad either. It’s when it’s continuous and severe that problems start.
No one is immune to stress or its effects, and the caring team of providers at Gain Wellness Center works to pinpoint the sources of your stress, learn how it affects your body and mind, and devise a plan that gives you the appropriate treatments and tools to manage it effectively.
Can stress really affect my physical health?
You bet it can. Whether the source of stress is minor, like your car getting a flat tire, or major, like going through a divorce, it unquestionably impacts your physical health. We know that stress can cause:
- Changes in your libido
- Chest pain
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Problems sleeping
Unfortunately, these physical symptoms also impact your mood and can make you feel irritable, unsettled, depressed, and anxious.
Worse still is that the combination of these physical and emotional effects can cause you to react to your stress unhealthily rather than manage it well. Many are familiar with overeating, drinking too much alcohol, skipping activities you enjoy, or becoming less physically active as ways to deal with stress, albeit unhealthy ones.
Long-term, unrelenting stress has even been associated with serious illnesses, which we cover later in this post.
Stress and hypertension
We also know that stressful situations cause short-term spikes in blood pressure, during which your heartbeat speeds up and your blood vessels become narrower. If your stress is continuous, it’s thought that your hypertension may transition from brief instances to a chronic state, which puts you at risk for:
- Long-term arterial damage
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Sexual dysfunction in men and women
- Eye damage
Problems and risks multiply when stressful events that cause your blood pressure to become elevated are combined with unhealthy ways of reacting to stress that are harmful to you in and of themselves, like the lifestyle habits we addressed earlier — excessive alcohol or tobacco use, eating an unhealthy diet, neglecting physical exercise, etc.
How can I get my stress under control?
We’re here to help you tame your stress, and we do it by taking an overarching look at your health. We approach your treatment from a functional medicine perspective, or a way to manage your health that dives deeper into your health history, lifestyle, and current condition rather than simply looking at one or a few limited symptoms and writing you a prescription.
We offer a complete wellness evaluation, which allows us to find the root cause of your condition. Stress is often a significant contributing factor to a range of conditions, like hypertension. If not treated, stress-related high blood pressure is bound to become a major health worry.
In addition to your stress level, we assess your:
- Sleep habits
- Physical Activity
- Cellular health
- Hormonal equilibrium
After we evaluate these factors, we create a treatment plan designed for you and you alone.
It might include suggested nutritional adjustments, mindfulness components like meditation, gentle-on-your-body exercises like walking and yoga, and solutions that bring your hormones back into balance. We also make you aware of what triggers stress in you specifically, because the more knowledge you have, the more power over your stress you can wield.
We might also talk to you about exactly how to balance work and the rest of your life better and introduce more fun into your life, like pursuing hobbies you enjoy and spending time with friends. All of this matters when it comes to stress management and ensuring that you don’t develop chronic, severe hypertension because of stress.
No one is immune to stress, but we partner with you to gain control over it and enjoy greater quality of life. Call our office to schedule a free consultation, or request one online.