Every year, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducts a survey on the impact of stress in America – and as you may suspect, it’s substantial.
The latest survey found that many Americans are still reporting extreme stress levels (8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) and many say their stress levels have increased in the past year.
The fact of the matter is that stress management often takes a backseat to the responsibilities of daily life, and many regard such ‘me time’ as an indulgence that can only take place after everything else is ‘done.’ Of course, ‘everything’ won’t ever be done, which is why it’s important to weave stress relief into your daily grind such that you do it automatically – like breathing and sleeping.
Stress plays a major role in your immune system, and can impact your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, and hormonal balance, for instance. It can even “break” your heart, and is increasingly being viewed as a cardiovascular risk marker.
Stress has also been linked to cancer by acting as a drive of cancerous mutations and multidrug resistance, potentially triggering the growth of treatment-resistant tumors. And stress even appears to be related to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, by triggering a degenerative process in your brain and precipitating disruption of your neuroendocrine and immune systems.
In fact, stress, and by proxy your emotional health, is a leading factor in virtually any disease or illness you can think of.