If you read my blog post from Tuesday, you know that I had to take my beloved Labrador, Charlie, on a one way trip to the vet. Which resulted in a week filled with stress. I have talked about stress before, but today I want to let you know some of the health risks of unchecked stress.

Stress is an emotion we feel during times of chaos and uncertainty – when we don’t have control over a situation, or we feel like things will never get better.

It’s not enough to just flippantly learn about stress relief for when things are really bad. You need to have a clear understanding about what stress does to your body and mind – and it doesn’t have to be life changing events – it can be small stress that adds up on a daily basis.

Stress Can Literally Break Your Heart

When stress is running rampant in your life, it’s taking a toll on your heart. High blood pressure is always a recurring theme of stress, and when you’re under a lot of stress, your cholesterol levels soar, too.

Cortisol hormones cause a great imbalance. Cortisol, paired with adrenaline, get into your bloodstream the minute you encounter a stressful situation. Left untreated, these two hormones will wreak havoc on your body, keeping you ramped up in a fight or flight state of mind.

Sometimes it’s not just the high blood pressure or cholesterol levels that hurt your heart – it’s the stress relief measure you’re engaging in that do the most damage.

For example, someone who is untrained in stress relief might reach for fattening, sugar-laden foods like a big bowl of ice cream that helps them drown their sorrows.

Others might deal with stress by having a cigarette break every time they encounter even the smallest amount of stress. Those unhealthy habits are what cause the most damage to your heart, not the stress itself.

Stress Devastates your Immune System

Whenever you experience a chronic amount of stress, it starts to weaken your immune system, making you vulnerable to viruses and colds as well as other diseases.

Your body has first responder cells that attack invaders, and when you are highly stressed, you don’t have as many of these natural defense mechanisms. Keep stress at bay, but when you know you’re under more stress than usual, make sure you load up on vitamin C and other supplements that might help your body fight back.

Stress Causes Physical Pain

Have you ever heard the term “stress headache?” That’s a tension headache brought on by a great deal of stress that you’re experiencing. For some people, it’s mild – and for others, it’s a full-blown migraine.

Headaches aren’t the only pain you can suffer from stress. Back pain is a major symptom of too much stress. The lower back especially is susceptible to stress attacks.

Many people experience a kink (also called a crick) in their necks due to stress. Sometimes this is caused by aligning your body improperly during sleep, but other times it’s due to tension during your sleep patterns, and muscles aches from the anxiety.

Stress is unavoidable. Everyone will experience it at one time or another. But how you handle it will make a big difference in whether it becomes a danger to you, or a simple temporary, and minor distraction