For many of us during the holidays, all the parties, presents and pressure can add up to a huge amount of stress. But letting stress build up can be especially hard on those already dealing with a chronic illness. Read on to find out how stress affects the body and what you can do to decompress during the holidays.
The Stress Effect
When you feel stressed, your central nervous system cues your fight or flight response, sending in the troops to fight or flee whatever is causing the stress. Your brain’s hypothalamus signals the production and release of adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol, which in turn put your body on high alert. You get a surge of energy (at least at first), and your reflexes are quicker — all because your body is being told to divert resources away from body functions that aren’t crucial in the moment, like immunity, digestion, growth and sex drive.
Which might clue you into the problem: When stress is chronic, so are depressed immune systems, problems with digestion, stunted growth and lowered healing ability, and lack of sex drive.
How Stress Affects Your Heart
When you’re stressed, you breathe faster and your heart beats faster. But if you’re under stress for too long, that means your heart is working too hard for too long, which puts you at higher risk of problems like hypertension as well as stroke and heart attack.
How Stress Affects Your Digestive System
When your brain detects a threat (or source of stress), your liver releases extra sugar into your blood to give you the burst of energy you need to deal with the problem. When stress is chronic, you get elevated blood sugar levels, putting you at increased risks of Type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, the higher hormone levels, increased heart rate and rapid breathing can lead to problems for your digestive system, like heartburn and acid reflux. It can exacerbate existing conditions like ulcers, Crohn’s or IBD.
How Stress Affects Your Immune System
Stress initially stimulates the immune system to help you ward off disease and heal more quickly, but chronic stress has the opposite effect. It increases inflammatory response (bad news for all systems), and it inhibits histamine secretion. In short, it makes you more susceptible to viruses and increases the risk of infection, as well as reducing your ability to heal quickly.
How to Reduce Stress
During the holidays, simply remembering to slow down and not being afraid to say “no” can make a world of difference. Schedule time for you, whether that means taking in a yoga class or settling in with a good book or a favorite movie.
If you have a chronic illness, it means putting your health first, and making sure you’re sticking to your health regimen. Be honest about your capabilities when it comes to time, money and what your body (and mind) can handle, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Stay Healthy at IVX Health
With the warmth of a spa-like setting and the comforts of home without having to entertain medical professionals, you can receive your IV treatment while catching up on your favorite TV shows on our HDTVs, digging into the latest hit novel on our eReaders, or by simply hanging out with friends or family in your own private room. We’ll even provide refreshments.
We also understand the demands of a busy schedule, so we offer appointments during days, evenings and on weekends at two convenient locations on either side of the state line in both Lee’s Summit and Overland Park. If you’re ready to experience the difference IVX Health can make in your life, give us a call at either one of our locations.