Stress is so dangerous… it should come with its own black-box warning!
The common side effects of stress can run the gamut from headaches to muscle pain, fatigue, low libido, stomach problems, high anxiety, and on and on and on. It can even cause chest pain that mimics a heart attack!
But a new study out of Iceland has discovered that stress is even more dangerous to our bodies than we’d realized.
It can set you up for some of the most devastating diseases out there — and I’m not just referring to cancer.
That’s why it’s never been more important to hit that “pause” button and take some easy (but highly effective) steps when you sense that your stress is spiraling out of control.
Sometimes, stress can hit you like a ton of bricks… and other times, it’s more like a slow-burning fuse.
Either way, your health pays a big price.
In this new study, researchers from the University of Iceland crunched the data on over 100,000 patients in Sweden who had been diagnosed with a stress disorder. And that on its own is kind of interesting, as Sweden is on the list of the ten happiest countries in the world!
I guess that proves how universal this problem is… and that stress really has nothing to do with being happy or sad.
What the researchers discovered was a significant link between stress and developing an autoimmune disease. That’s when your immune system overreacts and starts attacking healthy tissue – often described as “friendly fire.”
And autoimmune diseases cover a lot of territory, from Crohn’s to MS, RA, type 1 diabetes, IBD, and psoriasis. These conditions also result in the sale of billions of dollars of Big Pharma’s riskiest products. Some of the most advertised drugs on the market are for autoimmune diseases.
The increased risk these researchers found between stress and this long list of ailments wasn’t a trivial one, either, at close to 40 percent.
And this is far from the first time that a study has proven that stress can be a menace to your health.
Back in January, I told you about research out of Michigan State University that details how stress creates a deadly domino effect that can cause your immune cells to go haywire, releasing chemicals that lead to inflammation and disease.
Those earlier findings compared being under stress to a severe allergic response. In both cases, the body amplifies its reaction, whether it’s to peanuts (if you’re allergic) or being in a traffic jam when you’re late for work.
Of course, realizing the danger and doing something about it are two very different things!
And I know, it’s not easy to stress-bust yourself. It often just builds up — like the heat on a summer’s day.
But there are some proven ways to stop stress in its tracks, and not one involves starting up on a risky medication.
- Breathing easy: Doing some breathing “exercises” is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to de-stress. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose and try to imagine it filling up your stomach instead of your chest. Let your belly “inflate,” hold it for a second or two, and slowly breathe out though your nose. This yoga-style breathing, while seemingly simple, can actually stop the flow of stress hormones in your body. Just three minutes of this “belly breathing” is enough to make you feel a whole lot better — regardless of what’s stressing you out.
- Walk it off: When you feel yourself starting to boil over, it’s time to lace up your shoes and head out the door! And you don’t have to overdo it — maintaining a nice leisurely pace for about 20 minutes may be all it takes to hit the “reset” button on your frame of mind. And when sunshine hits your skin, your body goes to work making that all-important vitamin D, which is known to be a mood booster!
- Supplement for stress: While taking an Rx drug to try and relax can come along with a host of other serious problems, there are numerous supplements that are safe and can help put a lid on stress. One, is the mighty mineral magnesium, which has been proven to promote relaxation and help regulate stress hormones. Others include an herb called holy basil, used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine (regarded as one of its most important plants), and ashwagandha, another herb that can lower anxiety and that’s been in use for over 2,000 years!
Personally, I’m a big believer in how owning a pup (in my case, two!) can do wonders in helping to beat stress on a daily basis.
It’s not just those puppy-dog eyes, either! Scientifically speaking, canine companionship has been found to raise your levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin — as well as serotonin and dopamine — and lower triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure. (And it gives you a lot more exercise.)
Plus that, you’ll never come home without a welcoming committee waiting at the door to greet you!
“Severe stress may send immune system into overdrive” Steven Reinberg, June 19, 2018, HealthDay, consumer.healthday.com