HEALTH: Stress and Illness

Nelson Beltijar, Personal Trainer and Athletic Therapist
Nelson Beltijar
Last issue I talked to you about the importance of learning to let go of the stress in your life. This issue I want to expand on the adverse effects that prolonged stress can have on your mind and body. Most importantly, I want to share strategies for self-care that will hopefully help you to let go of some of the stress in your life.
What is stress?
Stress is a mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stress can be external (from environmental, psychological, or social situations) and /or stress can be internal (illness).
Not all stress is bad. Studies have shown that short-term stress can boost the immune system. However, prolonged or chronic stress can have serious negative effects on the immune system, including increased tumor growth and progression. It can cause and contribute to serious illness.

The effects of chronic stress on your mind

  • Feelings of fatigue and sleep disorders
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

The effects of chronic stress on your body

  • Muscle tension, pain, and atrophy
  • Headaches
  • Worsening of existing health problems


  • Hyperventilation (breathing too hard and fast)
  • Triggering an attack in those with lung disease (such as asthma or emphysema)


  • Chronic inflammation
  • Narrowing and hardening of arteries
  • Increased risk for high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack


  • Increased risk of diabetes


  • Diarrhea, bloating, nausea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Lack of appetite or overeating
  • Ulcers

Male Reproductive System

  • Reduced testosterone production
  • Reduced sperm production and maturation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced immunity to infections

Female Reproductive System:

  • Absent or irregular menstrual cycles
  • More painful periods
  • More irritability
  • Increased and/or more severe hot flashes in menopausal women

What you can do

  • Find and treat the cause of your stress not just the symptoms.
  • Connect with true friends. Share your feelings with them.
  • Contact a professional counsellor.
  • Get 7-8 Hours of uninterrupted sleep everyday.
  • Eat well. Avoid artificial stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Avoid refined sugar, which causes blood sugar levels to spike and dip, which can affect mood. Eat meals at regular intervals to avoid blood sugar dips that trigger a release of adrenaline.
  • Try to do 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity 5 times / week

Running, cycling, walking, active housework, gardening, hiking, swimming, and dancing. Always consult with your family physician BEFORE starting ANY Exercise Program.

  • Rest your mind. Dedicate a certain time of the day to relaxing and taking care of yourself. Don’t look at your phone or computer.
  • Perform relaxation techniques: Breathe deeply, meditate, and visualize a happy place. Stretch out to encourage blood flow.
  • Forget “Perfection”. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Try to focus on what you have not what you lack.
  • Learn to distinguish between what you can change and what is beyond your control. Try to change what you can change and stop worrying about the things you cannot change.
  • Decrease hostility and anger. Count to 10 before reacting.
  • Let go of grudges. You only poison yourself with resentment.
  • Do something you love each day even if it is just for a few moments.
  • Laugh a little, better yet, laugh a lot.
  • Turn on the music, pump up the volume, and enjoy your favourite songs.

Remember, if you are experiencing a high stress level for a long period of time, or if potential problems from stress are interfering with activities of daily living, it is important to reach out to a licensed mental health professional, such as JSS’ Kuge Takanori
Have a Fantastic Day – You Deserve It!