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The Harmful Effects of Stress and How to Combat Them as A Retiree

May 04 2020

By Jess Walter

It is reported that around 75 percent of adults experience some degree of stress, though bear in mind not all forms of stress are negative. Reports suggest that low levels of stress can make you resilient and help you focus better. However, stress is negative when it becomes chronic, and affects your physical body as a result. Irrespective of age or gender finding ways to alleviate stress will benefit your overall wellbeing. People react to stress in different ways, that reaction varies from person to person and can be based on a number of experiences and external factors. These variants can lead to a host of mental and physical problems, which can lead to frustration and isolation for retirees. 

Digestive System Issues 

Your gut is regarded as the epicenter for health in your body. Gut health is vital to many functions that can affect more than just digestion. When you’re under stress, important functions in your gut are compromised or changed. For instance, your liver may start producing extra glucose and this surge of extra glucose helps your body deal with the fight or flight response. Problems arise when your body produces extra glucose that is ongoing, this can lead to type 2 diabetes. This may, in turn, lead to digestive issues caused by an increased heart rate and rapid breathing. It’s important to maintain gut health even through stressful times, by ingesting food and drink that can promote good gut health, such as fermented foods and probiotics. 

Neck Pains and Muscle Spasms 

While there are a number of factors that can contribute to neck pains and muscle spasms, such as posture and injuries, studies reveal that stress exacerbates underlying tension in these muscles. Muscle tension anxiety is a major cause of physical discomfort and often leads to spasms. Stress is a major cause of anxiety and those trying to keep it under control may find that the disorder leads to inactivity. Surprisingly, studies find that inactivity depletes valuable resources from muscles and can cause further muscle tension. A way to combat this is through a gentle exercise that will not only improve muscle tone but also allow greater mobility in the upper body, particularly areas affected by neck and muscle spasms. Pilates, yoga and strength training with the help of wooden rings and tension bands will go a long way. 

Tension Headaches and High Blood Pressure

Chronic stress can lead to physical symptoms, such as headaches, high blood pressure and heart disease. While researchers are still looking for direct links between heart disease and stress, certain factors and lifestyle choices are driven by stress and may increase the risk of heart disease. Stress can also lead to high blood pressure forcing your heart to work harder than normal. Some individuals may take to overeating or consume alcohol as a coping mechanism, which may lead to heart disease. Tension headaches are fairly common and can be triggered by stress, causing strain around the eyes, head and neck areas, these headaches are said to affect around three percent of the American population. To alleviate some of the effects of the tension, a healthy diet and exercise regime recommended by a physician will go a long way to curb the effects of stress. 

While stress is ever-present in our lives, learning how to manage it will make a significant difference in how it manifests in our bodies. Physician-approved eating plans and exercise regimes will not only give us more tools to manage stress, but they will also help our bodies in other ways.