Mind & Body
Remember the saying “Happy mommy equals happy baby?” I would hear it all the time during my pregnancy and I truly believe in it! Well-Being encompasses all our parts. When our emotions are taking over, or our mind is bombarded with negative thoughts, our stress levels rise and our health is compromised. It is imperative to create a healthy balance in your life by nurturing your whole person, which includes spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs.
Effects of Stress on Your Health
When you are in a stressful situation, your body launches a physical response. Your nervous system springs into action, releasing hormones that prepare you to either fight or take off. It’s called the “fight or flight” response, and it’s why, when you’re in a stressful situation, you may notice that your heartbeat speeds up, your breathing gets faster, your muscles tense, and you start to sweat. This kind of stress is short-term and temporary (acute stress), and your body usually recovers quickly from it.
But if your stress system stays activated over a long period of time (chronic stress), it can lead to more serious health problems. The constant rush of stress hormones can put a lot of wear and tear on your body, causing it to age more quickly and making it more prone to illness.
If you’ve been stressed out for a short period of time, you may start to notice some of these physical signs:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Upset stomach
When stress becomes long-term and is not properly addressed, it can lead to a number of more serious health conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heartburn, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome
- Upset stomach — cramps, constipation, and diarrhea
- Weight gain or loss
- Changes in sex drive
- Fertility problems
- Flare-ups of asthma or arthritis
- Skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis
Managing your stress can make a real difference to your health. One study showed that women with heart disease lived longer if they underwent a stress management program. Source
Ideas for mind-body wellness
- Relaxing your mind and body can help ease stress. It can also relieve anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Try one or more of the following techniques to help you relax:
- Yoga includes breathing, meditation, and exercises, called postures or poses, that stretch the body.
- Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing each muscle group to reduce anxiety and muscle tension. If you have trouble falling asleep, this method may also help with sleep problems.
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction focuses your attention on things that are happening in the present moment. The idea is just to note what is happening without trying to change it.
- Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress. When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body.
- Guided imagery is a technique in which you imagine yourself in a setting that helps you feel calm and relaxed.
- Laughter and humor make life richer and healthier. Laughter increases creativity, reduces pain, and speeds healing.
- Building resilience can help you cope. Being resilient means you’re able to bounce back from difficult situations or problems.
- Thinking Positive “With a positive attitude we experience pleasant and happy feelings. This brings brightness to the eyes, more energy, and happiness. Our whole being broadcasts good will, happiness and success. Even our health is affected in a beneficial way. We walk tall, our voice is more powerful, and our body language shows the way we feel.”
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise