Stress Causes Illness: 7 Tips for Chilling Out

Apr 14, 2012

Too much emphasis on what to eat and what not to eat, but lifestyle and ability to cope with daily challenges can play as important of a role in our health.  The constant role of tension and stress plays in our health can be profound.  Not only does stress increase blood pressure, but stress also raises cholesterol levels.

Numerous studies over the last few decades has pointed out very clearly that a rise in cortisol and norepinephrine, stress hormones, leads to poorer health parameters such as higher blood pressure, lowered immune function, higher triglycerides and higher cholesterol.  They are in disagreement as to the cause, but speculations include

  • increased release of fatty acids and glucose into the bloodstream because of energy demand due to stress, causing increased secretion of LDL cholesterol by the liver.
  • stress interferes with the body's ability to get rid of excess cholesterol
  • stress induces excess inflammation, to which the body responds by sending out LDL (bad) cholesterol

Stress isn't going to go away soon, we have it in our daily lives.  What we need are coping mechanisms, ways to diffuse the stress or even simply be able to give up control of certain situations.  I have listed many more than these few coping mechanisms in "Get Rid of Bad Cholesterol", but here are some that I do every day.

  1. Exercise, especially a good brisk walk, takes the edge off any stressful situation.  It also serves as double duty of raising HDL or good cholesterol.
  2. Meditation.  I find that my stress headaches dissipate after listening to a good meditation tape for 20 minutes.
  3. A creative activity, could include singing, painting, or cooking something new out of a cook book for fun.
  4. Get enough good quality sleep.  The usual take a hot bath, drink warm milk (or take a calcium with some chamomile tea), and relax before bed all help.
  5. Keep your environment clean, and clutter free.
  6. Meet with friends and family you enjoy, exchange hugs and laughs.
  7. Make a short list in the morning of your goals or chores for the day.  It allows you to focus on one thing at a time rather than being overwhelmed.
These are to-dos of sorts that all help cope with stressful living, but mostly the best to do is to simply not take it all that seriously.  Once you get sick, like I did, you realize that most of the small stuff don't matter at all in the grand scheme of things.  There are situations that are stressful, but these should be the exception and not the rule.

 Stress raises cholesterol levels

Levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol were three times as likely to be at potentially harmful levels in this group compared with those who registered the smallest cholesterol rise after the initial tests.

See original article at BBC

Since stress raises cholesterol levels, blood pressure and triglycerides, simple and doable lifestyle changes to diffuse stress in our every day lives can go a long way to improving health, well being and even happiness.  Do any of you have some favorite "chilling out" activity that you unwind with?  Please leave a comment or if you liked this post, hit the like button.

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