Stress is just a part of life. But chronic stress can lead to even bigger health problems.
While we can’t completely avoid stress, a recent study is shedding some light on one reason we should keep our stress under control.
“Research indicates that stress accelerates the aging process of your immune system. It is like stepping on a gas pedal, making your body age faster than it normally would," Dr. Susan Albers, a Psychologist with Cleveland Clinic, said.
The study found people who were more stressed showed signs of accelerated immune aging. This can lead to an increased risk for chronic diseases.
Dr. Albers didn’t take part in the study, but encourages people to find ways to manage their stress. She recommends setting aside time each day for an activity to help with stress relief, like going for a walk. Both regular exercise and a healthy diet can boost your mood and immune system.
She also said mandarin oranges are her go-to food for stress relief; the scent of citrus has been found to have a calming effect, and the Vitamin C-rich fruit also helps support a healthy immune system.
She said if you're having trouble managing stress on your own, it may be time to reach out for help.
“If it is impacting your everyday functioning, if it is changing your sleep or your eating habits, or you just don't enjoy life anymore — this is a great time to connect with a professional," Dr. Albers said.
She said having some stress can be a good thing; it can motivate you to accomplish your goals. We just have to keep that stress at a healthy level.