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Stress can make you sick

Why stress can make you sick

Feeling stressed out? You’re not alone, says Elizabeth Hawk, M.D., a primary care physician at Piedmont. Dr. Hawk says she sees numerous patients who are experiencing stress-related health symptoms.

Symptoms of chronic stress

The symptoms of stress vary from person to person, and can be both mental and physical. “Some patients may complain of difficulty concentrating, constant worrying, anxious thoughts and/or irritability,” she says. “In many cases, stress may manifest physical signs, such as headaches, chest pains, rapid heart rate and dizziness, to name a few.”

Left uncontrolled, stress can wreak havoc on the entire body, from the immune system to the heart. “Uncontrolled stress can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, increased risk for heart disease, a weakened ability to fight infections, pain syndromes, sleep disorders and obesity,” explains Dr. Hawk.

Stress management for good health

Taking the time to relax and de-stress isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity for good health. Dr. Hawk recommends the following four strategies to reduce stress and find balance in your everyday life:

1. Exercise. Make sure to get regular exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Do whatever you enjoy, from walking around the block to taking a kickboxing class. Find what works for you and stick to it.

2. Follow a healthy diet. Try to incorporate each food group into every meal, including vegetables, protein (eggs, legumes, fish and lean cuts of meat), low-fat dairy, grains and fruit. Limit sugar, highly-processed carbohydrates, alcohol and saturated fat.

3. Sleep well. Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night and stick to a consistent schedule.

4. Do something fun. Watch a light comedy or visit with friends who make you laugh. “Stress management allows people to live more productive, happy lives, which results in improved health habits and overall wellbeing,” she says.

For more stress reduction tips, visit Health & Wellness.

Dr. Hawk practices at Piedmont Internal Medicine, located at 105 Collier Road Northwest, Suite 5040, Atlanta, GA 30309. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Hawk or one of our other primary care providers. Save time, book online.

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