There is always an upside and a downside on everything. When your stress level overrides you internally, it will also start overriding your health.
However, when it comes to a situation where we need motivation, it prompts us to take action.
Research made the link between stress and metabolic syndrome, a condition that leads to heart disease.1 Metabolic syndrome is a combination of disorders, it can be identified by three or more symptoms below:
- Excessive fat in and around the stomach area
- High blood pressure
- High blood triglyceride levels
- Low levels of good cholesterol
- Higher than normal blood sugar levels
If you experience long-term work related stress and possess more than two of the above symptoms, you might have a higher chance of developing metabolic syndrome, which will affect your nerve system. Data tends to suggest that people with bad habits, such as poor diet and lack of exercise, may also have heart disease.
There are a few useful pointers:
- Eat whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables, and steer away from food high in fat or sugar2
- Keep being active
- Avoid smoking and emotional stress
If you leave your heart condition unchecked, it might start to affect your psychological health being.
There are about 12 million adults visiting their doctors for mental health problems every year, and often the reason is stress. Researchers found that stress can add up and cause you to feel from vulnerable to depressed. People who has a highly demanding job and little control over it will have a higher chance of depression or anxiety. Stress is unavoidable and unpredictable. Remember, don't let the stress get the best of you!
Try to identify what it feels like to be stressed, so that you can take steps to manage it.
Share what's on your mind with friends and family, they might be able to help you see things differently.
Make sure you're taking breaks, and getting enough time to relax. Focus on the positives.
When your body reacts to stress, chemical changes inside your brain and body that will affect your digestive system. These chemical will stimulate the movement of your intestines. A study found that 70% of people without a bowel condition, reported changes in their digestion when they were feeling stressed. Over half of this group also said they had abdominal pain and felt extreme discomfort.3
To keep your digestive system working at its best:
- Don’t skip any meal when you're under pressure
- Eat your daily portion of fibre
- Limit how much alcohol you drink
- Don’t digest your feelings
- Talk to someone about how you feel
Short outbreak of stress actually boosts the immune system, helping your body to fight against infection. However, experiencing long period of stress can have the opposite effect and parts of your immune system might lose their ability to function properly.
To ensure you stay healthy even when you're busy, make sure you:
- Eat a balanced diet containing lots of Vitamin C (citrus fruits), E (seeds, olive oil, leafy green vegetables), B6 (bananas) and Zinc (red meat, whole grain cereals)
- Stay physically active
- Get at least seven hours of sleep a night
- Chandola T, Britton A, Brunner E, Hemingway H, Malik M, Kumari M et al. Work stress and coronary heart disease: what are the mechanisms? Eur Heart J. 2008 Mar;29(5):640-8.
- Melchior M, Caspi A, Milne BJ, Danese A, Poulton R, Moffitt TE. Work stress precipitates depression and anxiety in young working women and men. Psychological Medicine 2007; 37: 1119-1129.
- Stress and IBS. IBS Research Update. Visited 14 June 2013.
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