Stress can be Invisible!
Looking healthy, but Annual Wellness Check says “Not so”!
Stress is a part of our daily lives. It is an inherent part of daily activities – on the job and “off-the-clock”. But when stress becomes chronic, it can take a toll on our health, and I am a prime example. Going about my daily routine, like most professionals and entrepreneurs, I don’t usually take the time to consider the stress signs nor the impact they had on my health until my annual wellness visit test results came back.
Total Cholesterol levels above the normal range, and HbA1c at pre-diabetes levels. Seeing this brought me to a jolting halt! My dear father had diabetes and hypertension for many years (and eventually passed away following complications 40 years post-diagnosis). So, I am predisposed to these co-morbidities. Until my recent annual wellness visit, I thought I was “healthy”, but silently, the stress of life in general and all that comes with it crept in to destabilize my status.
Yes, I knew I dealt with stress here and there (don’t we all), but I thought this was nothing major or over the top. I didn’t take the time to consider my stress level and how this impacted my health and mental state. Thanks to my primary care physician, now more mindful of the stress signs and what to do to avoid stress and manage my way back to a “clean bill of health”.
Here are some tips I have to share with you about the signs of stress, the impact on your health, work/business life, and personal life, and ways you can avoid stress.
Signs of Stress
Chronic stress can manifest itself in many ways, and it is important to recognize the signs before it becomes too late. Here are some common signs of stress:
- Physical Symptoms: headaches, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, chest pain, increased heart rate, and hypertension.
- Behavioral Changes: irritability, mood swings, withdrawal, increased alcohol or drug use, and procrastination.
- Cognitive Changes: difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and indecisiveness.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to take action and address the underlying cause of stress.
The Impact of Stress on Health
Chronic stress can have a significant impact on our health. It can increase the risk of developing many chronic diseases, including heart disease, particularly hypertension, diabetes, and depression. It has also been shown to lead to heart attacks and strokes. In addition, Stress can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off infections The effects of stress on mental health can present in different ways including irritability and aggression, helplessness, fatigue, sadness, mood swings, and diminished focus. When sustained, stress can lead to both depression and anxiety.
The Impact of Stress on Work/Business Life
Stress whether from within or external to the job can also have a significant impact on work. Individuals with chronic stress are more likely to have decreased job satisfaction and productivity, increase absenteeism and turnover, and lead to decreased patient satisfaction. Stress can lead to poor decision-making, which can have a negative impact on the bottom line. In addition, it can lead to burnout creating a sense of hopelessness, cynicism, and even resentment.
The Impact of Stress on Personal Life
Chronic stress can also take a toll on our personal life. It can lead to relationship problems, social withdrawal, and decreased quality of life. Additionally, stress can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overeating or drug and alcohol use, which can further exacerbate the problem.
Ways to Avoid Stress
While it may not be possible to completely avoid stress, there are many things you can do to mitigate its impact:
- Take breaks: Take regular breaks throughout the day to recharge and relax. Plan and take vacations.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health.
- Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is crucial for physical and mental health.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve focus and concentration.
- Seek support: Talk to colleagues, friends, or family members about your stress and seek their support.
[Remember, if you are experiencing extreme stress or experiencing thoughts of suicide please call 911].
Stress takes a toll on our health, work-life/business, and personal life. It is important to recognize the signs of stress and take action to address the underlying cause. Make sure to go for your annual wellness check and also when you feel “out of sorts”. Lastly, taking care of ourselves reduces the impact of stress and improves our overall health and well-being.