Mind & Body: Lower Stress, Get Healthier

Stress makes people sick. Studies show that stressful events lead to physical illness later in life, and that stress at any age weakens immunity. Parents who are responsible for the health and well-being of others are especially vulnerable to stress and its negative impact.

Interestingly, stress is a response to both negative and positive events. According to the Holmes and Rahe Scale of Stressful Life Events, getting married and the death of a close family member are both in the “top ten” of stressors. Other life changes that rank high on the stress scale include pregnancy, gaining a new family member and outstanding personal achievement, along with marital separation or divorce, imprisonment of a family member and the loss of a job. (Click here to calculate your “stress score.”)

Whether stressors are positive or negative, studies show that more stressful events lead to a greater likelihood of physical illness – heart disease, diabetes, asthma, depression, anxiety, headaches, cancer and others. Here are some ideas for managing stressors:

Acknowledge the stress, and your strengths. While even happy events cause stress, recognizing the difficulties and validating your own efforts to manage the stress can help.

Rest when your child does. Studies show that sleep deprivation can reduce the number of cells that fight microbes and cancer cells.

Be mindful. If you feel stressed, focus on the moment – not the past or present. To create a different perspective, remind yourself of the ways you are fortunate.

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