HOUSTON – Anytime you have prolonged stress in your life, you're doing physical damage to your body.
According to a Gallup poll, only 4% of Americans said they never feel stressed out, making America one of the most stressed countries in the world.
Dr. Warren Redfearn from Kelsey-Seybold Clinic said we are a high-tech, highly-connected society and that can increase cortisol and keep it high.
“This can make us produce more fat, the fat makes us obese," Redfern said. “Over time, the stress hormone elevated can cause us to not be able to lose some of this weight because of the chronic elevations in the cortisol hormone.”
When you stay stressed for a prolonged time, you’re at risk of more than obesity along with dozens of other chronic diseases fueled by stress.
“Heart disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, all these things can manifest themselves to a greater degree (than) they otherwise would,” said Redfearn.
Other common medical conditions include:
- stomach problems, such as IBS
- premature labor
Redfearn recommends prioritizing time to decompress.
“Sleep makes it better," Redfern said. "Exercise makes it better. Having your stress level reduced can help.”
Redfearn said losing weight and meditation will probably help too.
Here are some ways Redfearn suggests to decompress if you’re experiencing any of these complications:
- Bloating and stomach problems = try to get more sleep and exercise
- Stress of a caregiver or worry about finances = meditate, take time to get away from worrying
- High blood pressure = get good sleep, get good exercise, lose weight
- Pregnant = take time off in the weeks before delivery. In some cases, bedrest may be required to reduce the chances of preterm labor.