You may have heard that a little bit of stress is actually good for you. In the just-right amount, that adrenaline rush can power you through a long day at work, boost your workouts and more. But while it feels good to conquer the day, in the end, it just simply feels better — and is more beneficial to your health — to relax.
You may still end up racing to meet deadlines at work today, or handling a stressful personal crisis — life goes on, no matter what kind of day it is. But relaxing whenever possible, and in whatever way works for you (whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk, practicing deep breathing techniques, running, you name it!) is healthier for you than you might think. Check out the health benefits of relaxation below.
Relaxing Protects Your Heart
“There are studies to show that stress is comparable to other risk factors that we traditionally think of as major, like hypertension, poor diet and lack of exercise,” Kathi Heffner, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Rochester Center for Mind-Body Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, told Health.com.
Relaxing Lowers Your Risk of Catching a Cold
Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has shown that chronic stress lasting more than a month but less than six months doubled a person’s risk of catching a cold.
Relaxing Boosts Your Memory
One study found that, at least in mice, chronic stress impaired the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in abstract thought, cognitive analysis and detecting the appropriate behavior for a given situation, leaving the mice struggling to remember how to find their way through a maze.
Relaxing Lowers Your Stroke Risk
A 2007 University of Cambridge study found that people who coped the best with stressful life events had a 24 percent lower risk of stroke. A 2011 study examined the specific effects of work-related stress, and found that among middle- and upper-class men, psychological stress caused about 10 percent of strokes.
Relaxing Keeps You Safe from Depression
In 2011, a study involving mice exposed to a stressful situation didn’t want to eat, gave up during a swimming task much faster and exhibited “pleasurelessness” — similar to human depression symptoms like loss of appetite, sadness and hopelessness.
Relaxing Helps You Make Better Decisions
A 2012 study found that stress seems to actually change how we weigh risks and rewards, and can cloud our judgment when we are faced with important decisions. Counterintuitively, stressed-out people tend to focus on the positive, and may ignore the cons of a decision they’re about to make, one of the study’s authors, Mara Mather Ph.D., a professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California, said.
Relaxing Keeps You Slim
Stress makes it harder to resist foods high in fat and sugar, increases appetite, and may even specifically encourage junk food cravings.
Relaxing Eases Acne
Researchers have found that stress seems to up the amount of oil produced by the skin, clogging pores and causing acne, according to WebMD.
Relaxing Will Keep You in the Mood
“Men are more likely to see sex as a stress reliever, whereas for many busy women, their husband’s desire is just another demand on their time and energy,” Alice Domar, Ph.D., director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health at Boston IVF told Ladies Home Journal.
Relaxing Could Slow Breast Cancer
While research on the effects of stress on cancer growth are largely inconclusive, there is some evidence pointing toward a link between stress and breast cancer aggressiveness. Relaxing not only seems to delay the progression of the disease, but may also speed recovery.
Source: The Huffington Post