We all know what it feels like to come back from a stressful day, whether at the office, university, or even an evening of socializing.
Your back aches, your head hurts, and all you want to do is crawl up in a ball and go straight to sleep. And most of the time when we do this, things look much better in the morning.
However, over the long term, stress can have a big impact on the body – from disturbing sleep, to affecting your skin or creating cravings.
If you do nothing to change the situation, an accumulation of problems can be really bad for your health. But don’t worry, stress can be reduced in lots of ways and the impact on your body minimized.
We’ve put together a handy guide on what stress does to your body and how to deal with the consequences, from how to get rid of dry skin to how to deal with those pesky sugar cravings…
Worryingly, stress can actually affect the body’s most important organ: the heart. A seminal study by Sir Michael Marmot of British civil servants found a correlation between work-based stress and heart attacks.
Interestingly, his research showed it was much worse for those at the bottom of the hierarchy than the top. This was thought to be because they had much less control over their own work. So what can we learn from this knowledge? Surprisingly, when you feel stressed at work, find ways to take control of the problem.
Also Read: 30 Minutes for a Healthy HEART
Ask your manager for more responsibility, not less, and take on projects that you know you can succeed at. This will boost your confidence and automatically reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
As anyone who’s gone through a nail-biting exam period knows, stress can also impact your skin. (And not only because you’ve been absent-mindedly gnawing away at your fingers.) Stress can actually manifest as a rash, eczema, or just plain old dry skin.
So, how to get rid of dry skin? Make sure you drink plenty of water, moisturize regularly, and consult your doctor if the problem remains or is particularly severe. But fundamentally, stress that’s showing itself on your skin needs to be dealt with – if the underlying cause is left to fester, it could end up even worse in the long run.
If the problem flares up every time your have exams, interviews or a presentation to do at work, find ways to relax during these periods. Long walks, listening to music, mindfulness meditation, and talking to friends can all be good stress relievers.
Many people find their appetite is affected when they are stressed. This may be in the form of a very low appetite, but for lots of people it will mean overeating. This habit can spiral out of control – the more stressed you are, the more you eat, and the more you eat: the more stressed you become.
To break out of this, start doing some exercise. Fitness training tends to lower your appetite, improve your mood, deal with the stress and improve body image all in one go.
Not a big exerciser? Start small – you don’t have to go to the gym every day to see the benefits. Just a short walk around a park or getting off the bus a few stops early can be a good starting point. Finding a form of exercise you love can really help too.
None of these tricks are too difficult and all can help improve your health when stressed. By remembering how to get rid of dry skin, how to deal with cravings, and the best ways to look after your heart – you’ll be well on the way to a much calmer body and mind!