Grief Can Hurt Your Health – Here’s How To Deal With It

You know that grief can make you depressed and anxious, but did you know it can make you more susceptible to infections? According to a study published in the Ageing and Immunity Journal, losing a loved one boosts your stress hormones and makes your immune system less effective. That’s not the only thing grief can do to your body. There are other ways in which it can prevent your body from working the way it should, but luckily there are ways to combat these effects. Here are three ways in which grief affects health, and how to deal with it.

Grief makes you feel more pain 

When you experience aches and pains during the grieving period, it’s not your imagination. Research published on BBC found that grief can intensify body pains. When you grieve the loss of someone, the same area of the brain that’s involved in dealing with emotional pain is also responsible for processing physical pain. Therefore, the two can crossover, causing both emotional and physical symptoms, such as pain. Speaking to your doctor can help you get treatment for pain, as well as manage your emotional stress. This could include medication or consulting with a mental professional.

Grief disrupts your sleep 

When people who’d lost their spouses took part in research published in the Psychiatric Annals journal, they were found to experience sleep disturbances from grief. This is a common reaction to loss and can be due to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. However, in another study, this time by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, when people were helped with their sleeping problems, they also managed to deal better with their grieving. Therefore, tackling the symptoms of grief can help people improve their lives and work through their insomnia. Consulting with a psychologist can help to work through issues that keep you up at night. Healthy lifestyle changes are also advised. These include sticking to a sleep schedule and ensuring the bedroom is a quiet, dark place that assists in relaxation, as these are beneficial in treating insomnia.

Grief makes health conditions worse

According to an article published by US News, researchers found that when a person loses a spouse, their chronic diseases can get worse. This has been found to be the case for diseases such as Parkinson’s and COPD. For instance, the patients might experience lapses in their disease treatment. This can be as a result of people depending on their spouses for help with treatment of their illness, even when it comes to remembering to take their medicine. Without their spouses around to take care of them, they might miss doctor’s appointments and not know how to look after themselves. Therefore, after experiencing a loss, it’s important for the person to get help with managing their illness. This could include enlisting the help of a different loved one to take over their healthcare.

How to deal with grief to maintain your health 

If you’re experiencing grief, chances are you’re experiencing symptoms related to mourning such as difficulty concentrating, a lack of sleep and a loss of appetite. These are all normal responses to grief that can be dealt with in healthy ways. An example includes being around supportive people to whom you can offload your emotions. Having a support system goes a long way to enabling you to process your emotions so they don’t keep you up at night. Another lifestyle tip is to eat healthy foods that calm your stress while giving you nutrients to keep your immune system healthy. Examples include foods rich in antioxidants, such as brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. Looking after yourself with diet and lifestyle habits can assist you in working through the grief and preventing health-related problems that arise from it. 

Going through grief is a difficult experience that can result in physical side-effects. By treating these side-effects and learning constructive ways to deal with feelings of grief, you can help your body stay healthy and strong.

7 ways that can help reduce your stress levels

There are many reasons why you could be suffering from stress. The pressures of your job, problems at home, health concerns or financial worries can all contribute to the onset of stress.

Whatever the reasons, stress is on the increase. A study carried out in early 2017 found that 70% of Americans suffered from stress and of those, more than half have to deal with it on a daily or weekly basis.

This is bad news. Stress can lead to, among other problems, headaches, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, fertility problems, high blood sugar and an increased risk of heart attack. In short, if stress goes untreated it can be a killer.

So how do you beat stress? Here are seven ways to help reduce your stress levels

Exercise

When it comes to reducing stress, exercise is one of the simplest ways of doing so. When you hear that experts recommend that we should be getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, you’re probably thinking you don’t have time for that. It might seem like a lot, but in fact it translates to around only 22 minutes a day. That is a walk around the park during your lunch break or cycling into town at the weekend rather than taking the car.

For those with more time to dedicate to exercise, then taking up jogging or sports such as badminton or tennis will help to combat stress. Working out regularly will help improve your health – something that six in 10 American adults are worried about –  help improve your mood and help lift depression. It also gives us something to focus on – if you are thinking about running that 10k race, you are not spending time dwelling on other situations in your life which could cause you stress.

Avoid unhealthy habits

It’s a vicious circle – when we are stressed, some of us turn to alcohol and cigarettes as a means of unwinding. This is known as avoidance behavior and although we may think it is helping us to cope, in actual fact  it is the very same alcohol and cigarettes that increase our stress levels in the first place. What you end up with is a snowball effect.

The answer is that no matter how bad things get, try and avoid turning to drink and tobacco at all costs. They might provide temporary relief, but they won’t solve any of your problems. They’re actually more likely to cause new ones.

Supplements

There are a number of natural supplements out there which can be used to combat stress. Therapeutic doses of the right supplements can in some cases help to target the causes of stress when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brains pineal gland and helps to control the bodies sleep cycle. Given that lack of sleep is a major contributory factor when it comes to stress, taking melatonin to improve your sleep efficiency can help reduce stress levels.

Magnesium plays a key role in the brains nerve and muscle functions and can help to promote relaxation. Not only that, but research has indicated that it also aids the regulation of our stress response, with those who aren’t getting enough magnesium as part of a balanced diet seemingly more likely to be stressed.

Plants and herbs can also play a role in managing stress. Valerian root is a herb commonly known to treat insomnia and anxiety which makes it one possible tool for dealing with stress while CBD wax can also help with relaxation – click here to check it out!

Help people

Volunteering and helping others can help us beat stress by giving us an increased sense of resilience. By offering to help out with a local charity or organization, chances are you’ll end up coming into contact with people less fortunate than yourself.

This can put our problems into perspective and make us realize that we are actually quite lucky to live the life that we do. By being thankful for what we have, it can lift depression and unhappiness which both contribute to the stresses we feel. Not only that, but you’ll also get a sense of satisfaction out of helping those that need it, and you’ll be doing a good turn, too.

Connect with people

Don’t hide away and let the stress eat up at you – connect with as many of your friends and family as possible. There are two main benefits to doing this. Firstly, you’ll have a support network ready to help you out if you need to talk about the problems that are placing you under such stress.

Secondly, the activities we do with friends and family can help us unwind. Going to the cinema, watching sport and going out for dinner gives us a chance to be social, forget about our problems and most importantly, have a laugh. They do say laughter is the best medicine, after all.

Accept the things that you can’t change

A lot of stress comes from us worrying about things that are ultimately out of our control. Take a step back and ask yourself, could you actually do anything about the situation? If the company you are employed by is going under for example, chances are there is nothing you can do about it.

Don’t blame yourself or focus on something you can’t change, but instead put your energy into what you can do to improve the situation, such as looking for a new job.

Manage your time – be organized

How much of our stress comes from worrying about whether we can get something done by a deadline or that we are going to get from A to B on time? By being organized, you can manage your time better and reduce a lot of unnecessary stress. At work, prioritize the jobs that are most important and accept that you won’t be able to get everything done, every day. At home, leave enough time for journeys and plan ahead as much as possible to reduce the stress that comes with running late for a flight, bus or train. Little changes such as that can go a long, long way.

The Unexpected Dangers of Stress and How to Combat It

Stress can affect all of us, for many different reasons. It could be work-related stress, relationship stress, financial stress, and so on. There are so many different reasons you might be stressed, but what those reasons are don’t matter, and you should never be embarrassed about the cause. What does matter is prioritizing your well-being, because stress can cause several serious health issues including:

1. A Lowered Immune System 

When your body is stressed it produces adrenaline and other hormones that give you the extra edge and push you to need to deal with the challenge at hand. It is these very hormones, however, that put stress on your immune system, making you susceptible to illnesses.

2. Hair Loss 

Stress, typically, causes the body to produce cortisol, the flight-and-flight instinct that heightens our awareness. High cortisol levels, however, mean that other hormones that promote healthy hair and even cell regeneration aren’t being produced. Similarly, telogen effluvium can occur, where your stress can force many of your actively growing hairs into the telogen (resting) phase, causing an increase in hair loss. In some cases, your body’s immune system could actively attack your hair follicles. Thankfully, in most cases, your hair should return to normal after you have dealt with your chronic stress.

3. Heart Strain 

Stress puts a lot of strain on the body. It can cause stomach issues, muscle pain, but most worryingly, it can cause heart strain. Stress hormones can make your blood vessels constrict as well, which further increases your blood pressure and your risk for heart attack or stroke.

All of these symptoms must be managed, because they can exacerbate the stress you already have, worsening your mental and physical condition. Learn how to combat stress early on, and you can manage it before it becomes a problem. Ways you can relax vary, and include:

1. Healthy Eating 

Healthy eating leads to a healthy body, which in turn can help combat many of the worst symptoms of stress. Aim to eat more fruits and vegetables (which can boost your immune system) and foods that produce serotonin, like those high in fiber. What you should avoid at all costs, however, are foods that cause your blood pressure to rise, like fatty foods, sugar, and caffeine.

2. Meditation Techniques 

Meditation can mean a lot of different things, but the focus here is to break away from your stressors and focus on breathing. Guided relax hypnosis techniques can help you reset your stress, allowing you to break out of the negative downward spiral that chronic stress causes.

3. Improve Your Sleep 

Stress can affect your sleep quality, which is why you should adopt a new bedtime regimen. To start, turn off all electronics in your home off once the sun sets, as it is the blue-light from these devices that can disrupt your circadian rhythm, worsening your sleep on a daily basis. Then, before bed, try the meditation techniques you’ve found work for you. Be consistent with your routine, and you’ll see an improvement in your sleep quality.

4. Start A New Hobby

Starting a new hobby or more deeply pursuing an existing interest is another great way to combat stress. Whether it’s a new sport, taking an online course in photography, or learning a new craft, focused activity helps take the mind off stress inducing thoughts. For example, I am learning how to make my own t-shirts with a heat press. The whole process from making a design, to cutting the design, to pressing it on a t-shirt takes concentration and thought, and I find it very satisfying. I find it very calming and I have a fantastic product to give away or sell at the end!

Don’t let stress get you down. It can be painful, it can be psychology damaging, and it can be fatal. Instead, prioritize your wellbeing and your health, so that you can live a better, happier life.