Stress and Chronic Disease

tress in response to a challenge, is a state that takes our bodies out of balance. Our bodies return to balance once the stressful trigger is over; however, for people in a chronic state of stress, these changes, including increases in the hormone cortisol may remain over time leading to a multitude of effects.

People with chronic stress (over months and years) are at greater risk for high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease, faster and/or irregular heartbeat, increased inflammation in the body, increased susceptibility to infections and mental illness.  Chronic stress has also shown to promote cancer development.

People living with chronic diseases face health and other daily life challenges, which can further worsen chronic stress. Thus stress management is a vital part to one’s chronic disease management plan. Below are potential approaches to alleviate chronic stress.

Stress Mitigation Tips

1. Use the 5 A’s 

Avoid situations that trigger stress wherever possible, and avoid procrastination by addressing urgent and important tasks immediately

Alter by prioritizing and delegating daily tasks and responsibilities

Adapt by changing your perception of the situation, or modify your schedule or approach to handling the stressful situation

Accept by looking for opportunities within a bad outcome

Activity: engage in both physical and mental activities 

2. Journaling about stress and resulting emotions

3. Deep breathing, meditation and/or prayer

4. Supplementation with ashwagandha and/or magnesium

5. Engaging in a favourite hobby or pastime. 

6. Relaxing music and/or aromatherapy (rosemary, jasmine, lavender, and/or peppermint)

References

Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. University of Adelaide Press, Adelaide (AU), 20 Jun 2018.

Dai S, Mo Y, Wang Y, Xiang B, Liao Q, Zhou M, Li X, Li Y, Xiong W, Li G, Guo C. Chronic stress promotes cancer development. Frontiers in oncology. 2020 Aug 19;10:1492.

Moradi M, Nasiri M, Jahanshahi M, Hajiahmadi M. The effects of a self-management program based on the 5 A’s model on self-efficacy among older men with hypertension. Nursing and midwifery studies. 2019 Jan 1;8(1):21-.

Sowndhararajan K, Kim S. Influence of fragrances on human psychophysiological activity: With special reference to human electroencephalographic response. Scientia pharmaceutica. 2016;84(4):724-52.