Dr. Russell Greenfield: You already know that when you're stressed you get impatient and irritable. But what you may not know is that chronic stress can affect every cell in your body in harmful ways if it's not managed properly.
Not all stress is bad for us. A little pressure can help us meet deadlines, perform better athletically, and rise to our best performance. It's how we deal with stress and how long it lingers that makes the difference.
A person under frequent or prolonged stress releases greater amount of hormones like cortisol and neurochemicals like adrenaline that affect all the systems of the body. Chronic stress can upset digestion, cause headaches, depress the immune system, increase blood pressure, promote inflammation, increase pain, and even age you a little faster.
There are so many ways to reduce stress that you can definitely find a few that should work for you. Some people like to practice yoga or tai chi. Others choose a meditation or relaxation technique to practice regularly. Some dial down the stress through music, painting, or other arts, another person or even a pet who is a willing listener can help as well. A short course of counseling that focuses on developing attitudes and coping skills to diffuse stress. Maybe just the thing if you've got deep-seated beliefs that are getting in your way.
Laughter, exercise, massage therapy, they are all likewise effective stress management techniques. Relaxation is not a frivolous goal. Taking the time and energy to develop stress management skills is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and for you family.