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Self-Care: Learning How Stress Takes a Toll On Your Body

Stress impacts our mental and physical health. Learn how stress can negatively impact your body, and how to protect against that.

Stress is good in small doses: It’s what pumps the adrenalin that helps us nail the presentation even on zero sleep. It gives us the drive to complete the job no matter what. Stress makes our lizard brain alert and helps keep those in our care safe.

But too much stress, or ongoing stress, is like eating fiberglass and calling it cotton candy. The negative impact of stress on one’s body have been well documented, as we posted recently. Bad breath, bad teeth, headaches, disrupted sleep, and an appetite on the fritz are all consequences of prolonged stress. And, perhaps most famous of all, is cortisol, the “stress hormone” that seeks to make us all apple-shape.

Well, self-care can take care of all of this, right? Mostly, yes. But who has the time or resources to take an hour-long bubble bath or leave for a week on the beach? Very few of us. Luckily, there are a few things a person can do to reduce stress, mitigate its ugly side-effects, and find a little peace in a hectic world:

Make Your Bed The psychological benefits of making one’s bed every morning are no secret. Start the day off right by leaving your bedroom collected, calm, and put together.

Breathe If you can’t get to meditation, take three deep breaths at your desk. Even a few moments of mindful breathing can do wonders for your stress level and heart rate.

Moisturize Sneak in some self-soothing and do your skin a favor at the same time. Smoothing on the lotion is an act of kindness you can do for your mental health as well as your physical health.

Declutter You don’t need to overhaul your house to get the benefits of decluttering. Simply deciding to get rid of a number of things you never use, getting to the bottom of your mail pile, or bringing old clothes to the donation center can help clear some much-needed mental space.

Would we all be better off if we had a week doing yoga and relaxation exercises at an exotic resort where they serve only healthy but delicious food? Yes, of course. But we can do what we can with what we have—and still be better for it, mentally and physically.