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Stress is our body’s natural reaction to facing a challenging or demanding situation. While short-term stress from daily stressors is relatively easy to manage, chronic stress can negatively affect our physical and mental wellbeing. Suffering from high amounts of stress consistently can weaken our immune system and make us susceptible to diseases. As reported by the Cancer Society of Canada, the negative health impacts of stress can lead to an increased risk of cancer. Additionally, a different study by the National Cancer Institute found that increased stress hormones could trigger the recurrence of cancer in previously cured patients by activating dormant cancer cells in the body.
Cancer is a complex disease that includes numerous physiological and genetic parameters. While no study explicitly confirms that stress solely leads to cancer, as the abovementioned findings show, suffering from chronic stress can increase the probability of an individual being diagnosed with the disease. In this article by TWL News, we’ll explore numerous ways one can keep stress in check and develop a healthy lifestyle.
Recognize Your Triggers
If you’re consistently under stress, there are bound to be one or more reasons why. Your first step will be to recognize these triggers which could include: pressure from work, financial uncertainty, relationship issues, bereavement, or more. Only once you have understood the cause of your stress can you take action towards overcoming it.
If you’re struggling to come to terms with your triggers, it’s best to reach out to a loved one or a friend who can provide you with an objective perspective. Additionally, they can also serve as a pillar of support in times of need.
Start Eating Healthy
Stress and unhealthy eating go hand in hand. One of the main symptoms of stress is a lack of motivation which can lead to an individual overlooking their health needs and developing the unhealthy eating habit of consuming junk food regularly. Not only is junk food devoid of nutrition, but includes harmful preservatives which in the long term can weaken our immune system.
As reported by the American Society of Nutrition, individuals who eat a diet consisting of whole foods (i.e., food that is free of additives, preservatives and is minimally refined) experience lower levels of stress, and anxiety. Hence, rather than spending money on junk food, start buying fresh produce and cook your own meals.
Engaging in regular exercise serves as a natural stress buster, by reducing the level of cortisol in our body. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” as it is produced by our body in reaction to a stressful situation. Ideally, the level of cortisol subsides once we have moved on from the situation. But, those suffering from chronic stress have high levels of cortisol at all times, which can lead to high blood pressure and bone loss.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, choose to go for a jog or engage in a quick 20-minute home workout. Not only will this reduce cortisol levels, but promote happier moods and in the long run strengthen your immune response.
Improve Relations With Loved Ones
Living in a household where individuals are constantly arguing and complaining is inherently stressful. Often such situations are created due to a lack of communication and togetherness. While you may feel nothing can be done, you’d be surprised at how effective a simple honest conversation can be. Here are a few ways you can create a positive home environment:
- Next time someone starts complaining, rather than ignoring or instantly reacting, ask them what they want to do about it. This could include helping them with a chore, apologizing for a past mistake, or just being a good listener.
- Start planning family activities which could include going out for weekly dinners, planning a road trip, or having movie nights every once in a while.
- Houseplants are known to have a natural ability to create a positive environment and help reduce stress. Consider adding a few around your home, especially in common areas.
Learning to control stress is key to living a healthy lifestyle and reducing the chances of developing severe diseases such as cancer.