Stress is unavoidable, right? That is a practical reality. We can’t totally avoid stress as long as we are alive in this world. We can reduce our exposure to stress. We can counteract stress by doing relaxation exercises, yoga, exercise, meditation, and other things like biofeedback.

Why is it worth the effort to reduce or manage stress? Here are a few reasons.

Cardiovascular disease: Stress can cause constriction of blood vessels which leads to increased blood pressure. It can also cause plaque to build up in the arteries causing them to be less flexible. This can lead to heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks.

Physical Pain: When some people are under stress, they tense some of their muscles unnecessarily and chronically. Muscles are intended to cause the body to move and to maintain posture. When they are not working for those purposes, they should be resting. When muscles contract for a long period of time they can trigger pain. If a person is tensing their muscles as a reaction to stress for a long enough time, they may experience pain. This is often experienced as neck pain, back pain, or headaches because of chronic tension in the face, neck, and back muscles.

Sleep problems: When a person is stressed a lot during the day, they may develop problems falling asleep and or staying asleep. Being physically tense and mentally anxious at bedtime makes it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep may be improved if you reduce stress. It is very important to get enough sleep for good mental and physical health.

Cognitive function problems: Chronic stress has been shown to reduce connections between neurons in the brain and actually reduce the size of important parts of the brain. Even short-term stress affects our ability to think clearly. You probably can remember times that you were under stress and had difficulty with schoolwork or mental work on your job.

There are many more negative effects that stress can have on us. The ones listed above should make the point. For much, much more on the negative effects of stress on your body, check out the works of Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D. including a 24-lecture video program by The Great Courses company entitled Stress and Your Body. I just wanted to give a few important examples.

We encounter multiple sources of stress every day. It is important that we do things to reduce the negative effects of stress daily so that we don’t suffer these negative effects. By doing this we will not only avoid physical and mental health symptoms. We will also improve our quality and enjoyment of life.

Harry L. Campbell

914-762-4646 –

Author of What Stress Can Do, Available on

Biofeedback Resources International Corp.

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Biofeedback/Neurofeedback Training and Seminars are designed to teach clinicians biofeedback fundamentals and cutting-edge applications.

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