There is the understanding that a little bit of stress can be good for us, but when it starts to interfere with our livelihood, learning how to cope is essential.
Spending a few minutes relaxing every day is considered an effective means of stress management.
Whether it's reading a book, taking a walk or practising meditation - relaxing in a way that works for you is guaranteed to make a difference to your health.
The long-term benefits of this can be significant.
Relaxing protects your heart
Stress increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, which can put a great deal of strain on the heart. Studies also show that sudden periods of intense shock - like a break-up or death - can trigger surges of adrenaline that can cause the heart to falter temporarily. This is typically referred to as 'broken heart syndrome'.
Relaxing lowers the risk of getting a cold
Studies have shown that chronic stress lasting for more than a month (but less than six months) doubles a person's risk of catching a cold. This is because stress hampers the body's ability to fight inflammation.
Relaxing boosts memory
Chronic stress can affect the prefrontal cortex in the brain - the part involved in abstract thought, cognitive analysis and detecting appropriate behaviour for a situation. Sudden bursts of stress can also impair learning and memory, and there is even evidence to suggest stress can speed up the development of Alzheimer's.
Relaxing promotes better decision making
Stress can affect our ability to think clearly and make good decisions. Research shows that stress can actually change how we perceive and measure risks and rewards. People who are stressed will also focus more on the positives of a decision rather than the cons. This may help to explain why alcoholics crave a drink more when under stress as they are less able to resist and see the downsides.
Relaxing can ease acne
When we are under stress our skin suffers. Those prone to oily skin may find that stress can trigger bouts of acne, and this is backed by science. Studies show that stress can increase the amount of oil produced by the skin, which clogs pores and leads to flair ups. Skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis have also been linked to stress - and can be equally stressful themselves.
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