How to Manage Stress

​​​​​​​Everyone knows that cleaning and bandaging a wound helps it heal faster. But did you know that reducing stress can help you heal faster, too?

Results from a number of studies found that stress can slow the healing of wounds and weaken the immune system. One study found that married couples who argued healed at 60 percent of the rate of couples that got along well. The
American Academy of Dermatology also advises that stress can make psoriasis or rosacea worse, inflame acne, lead to brittle nails and hair loss, cause or worsen hives, and impair skin barrier function to allow irritants, allergens and infectious agents to penetrate the skin.

Follow these guidelines to reduce your stress:

  • Recognize the symptoms of stress. Common symptoms can include headaches, rapid heartbeat, chest pains, problems sleeping, irritability, anxiety, upset stomach, back and neck pain, overeating or loss of appetite, forgetfulness, and fatigue.
  • Learn how stress affects you. For example, recognizing you reach for the cookie jar when stressed will help keep you from packing on extra pounds.
  • Identify the cause of your stress. It could be a family relationship, work issue or health concern. Once you know the cause, it will be easier to find possible solutions.
  • Exercise. One study found that older adults who followed a regular exercise routine healed up to 25 percent faster than older adults who did not exercise regularly.
  • Don't make skin matters worse. Don't let stress lead you to neglect your skin care regimen or fall into behaviors such as scratching, pulling or rubbing that can make skin conditions worse.
  • Don't take it out on the ones you love. Researchers found that newlywed wives risked weakened immune systems after arguments with their husbands.
  • Get your finances under control. Money worries are a major source of stress. Take a realistic look at your financial situation, and then plan a course of action that puts you in control of the situation.
  • Stay focused on you. Don't get caught up in the state of the economy and world affairs. Pay attention to what is going on in your life, and stay focused on managing your stress and achieving your goals.
  • Find healthy ways to escape stress. Eating dinner at home with your family can save money and improve relationships. Try a new hobby or learn a new job skill.

 

​Dr. Woodward​ is a board-certified Doctor of Osteopathy with The Christ Hospital Physicians.