At its most basic, your body is composed of many overlapping systems that feed and support each other. Stress, like water running over a rock or rust in an engine, can wear down those systems over time, and that includes financial stress. In a Manulife study only half of Canadians who were financially unwell reported that they were in good physical health. Those dealing with financial stress were also reported to be twice as likely to have poor overall health and four times more likely to suffer from sleep problems, headaches, and other illnesses.
Different systems of your body also manage and compensate for stress in their own unique ways:
Muscles tense up naturally as the body’s way to protect against injury and pain, but stress can also produce a similar bracing tension. Over long periods of time, chronic muscle tension can create complications in the shoulders, neck, head, lower back and upper extremities, along with causing persistent headaches.
Stress can lead to shortness of breath and rapid breathing, issues that can be especially problematic for people with underlying respiratory issues such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Rapid breathing can also induce panic attacks in someone prone to panic attacks.
Stress can increase hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that speed up heart rate and produce stronger heart contractions, leading to an increase in blood pressure. Over long periods of time, these constant increases in heart rate and stress hormones can increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke.
Chronic elevated amounts of cortisol increase inflammation and activates the immune system. Over time prolonged elevations of cortisols, can impairs its regulation. This impaired regulation has been linked to the development of health problems including chronic fatigue, diabetes and obesity, depression, and immune disorders.
Stress can cause a variety of stomach problems including pain, bloating, nausea, heartburn and appetite changes. It can worsen symptoms for people with chronic bowel disorders such as irritable inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
In men, a change in cortisol levels can affect testosterone production which can impact sexual desire, reproductive abilities, and increase the risk of infection in reproductive organs. In women, stress can affect menstrual cycles, sexual desires, ability to conceive, and menopausal symptoms
Financial worries are one of the biggest sources of stress for Canadians, and poor financial wellness can directly affect your health. It is important to seek ways to reduce the amount of financial stress in your life to help avoid the negative impact it can have on your health.
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