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Cheryl A. Major: Chronic Stress Ages Your Bones and What You Can Do About It


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WESTFORD — The following column was submitted by member Cheryl Major for publication and distribution by WestfordCAT.

When you think of the most common problems faced by people as they age in terms of health, you might bring up the fact that they often have weak or brittle bones. This is true, but this isn’t a problem exclusive to older people. In fact, stress ages your bones, giving you some of the same problems that might be experienced by senior citizens, and does irreversible damage to many of your bones and joints.

The main culprit here is cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that gets released when you’re stressed. It’s meant to help you in the event of a short-term stressful situation, and it can do that. However, long-term stress never lets cortisol production return to normal, which means your cortisol levels will rise and remain at unhealthy levels, bringing lots of negative health effects along with it.

The reason cortisol damages your bones over time is that it stops certain processes in your body that are meant to build up bone structure, using it for extra energy instead. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue if you were to have some short-term stress, but with chronic stress, you lose key elements in your body that are there to help keep your bones strong and healthy.

If left unchecked, stress ages your bones, leading to a condition known as osteoporosis. With osteoporosis, your bones literally become porous. The reason this is so dangerous is that it means your bones are now far more fragile, and it would take a lot less force for you to sustain a serious injury. With less density, your bones will be more likely to fracture in the event of some minor injury, and will be much harder to mend afterwards.

With osteoporosis, simply tripping can lead to a broken pelvis or leg and can seriously affect your mobility for years to come. This serious condition can appear in younger people too from stress alone, and with many years ahead of them, that’s a condition they can’t afford to let develop.

Consider regular exercise and getting enough vitamin D3 and calcium so your bones are more likely to stay strong. This won’t fix the root problem of stress, but it can help lessen the effects of it. At the end of the day, you really need to figure out what’s causing you stress and address that before you develop a condition like this.

Body Tension Activities

This is a good segue into a discussion of body tension activities that soothe stress at any age. When you’re under stress, it causes tension in your body, especially in your muscles. What this tension does to your muscles is it keeps them from relaxing the way that they should.

While this is not a physical condition, it is a physical reaction to the emotional fallout caused by stress. This is one reason you can have backaches when you’re stressed or stiff shoulders or even neck pain.

Your body is taking on that stress. Because stress is absorbed into your body, it causes the aging process to accelerate. There are activities, however, you can do no matter what your age is that can soothe and help you manage your stress.

Meditation is one of those activities. Even if all you can do is practice it for 10 minutes, it will still help because it helps your body to relax; it also relaxes your emotions. People who engage in meditation can work to eliminate anxiety and control their stress.

Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing calms your central nervous system and reduces stress. Do something fun like dancing. When you dance, it results in the release of endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones. Not only does it relax you emotionally, but it also causes your muscles to unclench so they can relax, too.

If you don’t want to dance, take a walk. Being outside can help lessen stress as well. Even if all you do is walk around your neighborhood, it still helps, because this act causes a rise in serotonin, a neurotransmitter.

This neurotransmitter is a mood booster, so you feel good physically and emotionally when it’s released. Play with your pet if you have one. Research shows that animals relieve stress because the interaction with them causes your body’s level of cortisol, that stress hormone, to lessen.

Explore a new place or even your own area. Take a hike on a nature trail or play tourist in your own city. Studies show that spending time in nature not only lowers your body’s response to stress, but it also boosts your immune system, relaxes your mind and gives you energy.

Grow flowers or vegetables in an indoor garden. This has the same effect as being out in nature. It boosts your mood while at the same time it relieves stress. Keeping your hands busy nurturing and growing plants can also help you keep a positive mindset.

Listen to music. Music is a known stress reliever for both body and mind. You can enjoy music at home, you can find a concert to attend or look up a local band and go hear them play.

Find something to laugh about. This might be a movie or a video, but laughter can ease body tension in your muscles, while at the same time limiting the stress reaction, lowering blood pressure and boosting endorphin production.

Use aromatherapy! Certain scents relax the muscles and lower stress. Eat some dark chocolate. This delicious treat is known to lower the amount of cortisol produced by stress and lowering the cortisol relaxes the muscles. Try this chocolate, one of my personal favorites! https://amzn.to/3U47ReW

This article was originally published on https://ThinStrongHealthy.com 

Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!


Cheryl A Major, CNWC

I’m author, health coach, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you! If you’re new to the world of creating better health, both mental and physical for yourself, please check out my training on how to get sugar out of your diet. Crack Your Sugar Habit is where to check it out. Learn how sugar, as yummy as it may taste to you now, affects your mental and physical health and how to go about reducing or eliminating it from your diet. 

Be sure to follow me on Twitter so you won’t miss my daily postings for health, wellness and mindset!

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