How to Stay Healthy in Troubled Times

Prolonged stress reduces immunity and provokes the development of diseases. Let’s find out why this happens and how to counteract it.

What Is Stress?

Stress is a non-specific reaction of the body to psychological or physical factors. Not all stress is bad for health: short-term stress makes the body adapt to the changed conditions. For example, it can increase efficiency, which is essential for education or trying to hit a jackpot at Problems begin if a person is under stress for a long time. The immune system decreases because of prolonged stress.

What happens to the body?

  • Glucose tolerance is impaired, leading to blood sugar spikes after a meal.
  • Stress hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol) trigger various inflammatory reactions.
  • The percentage of “bad” cholesterol increases.
  • Blood pressure rises.
  • Muscle tissue volume decreases as protein balance changes.

Manifestations of Chronic Stress


  • Frequent colds.
  • Muscle tremors (e.g., frequent eye twitching).
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Dermatitis/skin rashes.
  • Headaches.
  • Hair loss.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Weight gain / loss.


  • Anxiety / aggressiveness/irritability.
  • Memory impairment.
  • Depression.
  • Inattention / distraction.
  • Bad temper.
  • Cravings for nicotine and alcohol.

What Are the Dangers of Chronic Stress?

Psychosomatic medicine considers stress to be a factor in the development of many diseases, but the cardiovascular and endocrine systems and the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) suffer more often than others. In particular, there is strong evidence of the relationship between stress and coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction. Often stress provokes nonspecific ulcerative colitis, reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – almost everything that is called a disease of civilization.

Scientists have confirmed a link between stress disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and the risk of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease. Stress exacerbates chronic ailments.

Common stress-associated diseases:

  • Hypertension.
  • Coronary heart disease.
  • Bronchial asthma.
  • Colitis.
  • Gastritis.
  • Diabetes mellitus (more often type II).
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Cancer diseases.

So, how to stay healthy when stress is all around?

The longer stress lasts, the higher the risk of new diseases and exacerbation of existing ones. Therefore, with prolonged stress it’s better to see a doctor to recognize the problem in time and prevent complications. You can start with a general practitioner, if necessary he will refer you to the right specialists. The diagnosis “chronic stress” is also made by a doctor. Self-diagnosis of this condition is difficult, because other diseases can hide behind the characteristic symptoms.

Since stress is inextricably linked with the emotional state, psychological help is essential. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a proven approach. Many patients with functional gastrointestinal diseases, such as IBS, benefit from medication that can be prescribed by a psychiatrist.

In general, people are more psychologically and physiologically stable when they lead a healthy lifestyle, i.e., eating healthier, getting enough sleep, moving and not abusing alcohol.

The following methods show the greatest effectiveness:

  • Physical activity. Thirty minutes of brisk walking or running, swimming or other exercises a day increase stress resistance. Physical activity produces the hormone of happiness – endorphin.
  • Breathing practices. Changing the rhythm of breathing signals the body to relax and slow the heart rate.There are a large number of different breathing exercises. One study suggests the effectiveness of the 4-7-8 technique for certain conditions. The tip of your tongue should be placed against the palate over your front teeth and take a deep breath with your nose, counting to four. Then hold your breath for seven seconds, and then exhale for eight seconds.
  • Meditation. Meditation techniques are based on the idea that one can use concentration to affect one’s physical state: to focus, to calm down, to relax. Researchers have concluded that it can actually help with stress.

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