April is stress awareness month and to commemorate this event I wanted to point out an interesting fact: stress can be a major cause of illnesses. Many of the ailments that health practitioners treat are overwhelmingly due to stress. Just think, if stress didn't exist many doctors would be out of work.

What starts as being "stressed out" can manifest in the body as a small problem, like say a lump in the throat or shoulder pain, but over the years that symptom might turn into a real problem if it lingers. Our bodies struggle to maintain health if we're constantly throwing stress at them. Most people don't wake up one day and overnight the body has developed a disease -- it happens over time.

Those small insignificant symptoms and problems eventually contribute to the body breaking down. Of course there are other reasons for diseases to manifest in the body, such as age and genetics, but the fact is that organs can't function property when our nervous system is on high alert. After awhile the entire body weakens and you're vulnerable to a host of problems, from colds and flu to anxiety and depression, to other major problems like high blood pressure, chronic pains, and heart disease.

Another interesting thing about stress is that most doctors will prescribe medications to help the physical problems with diseases, but emotional health might not be examined as closely. What may have triggered the stress in the first place (emotions like fear, anxiety, overwhelm, etc. being manifested as pain in the body) get left out of the picture, so doesn't it make sense that one way to prevent disease is to focus on emotional well-being and taking good care of yourself NOW?

This is not to scare anyone, but if your life depended on reducing stress, wouldn't you actively do something about it? I'm not saying it's a guarantee against disease, but stress reduction truly starts with awareness and stopping to assess how you feel. If you feel good - that's great, but if you feel terrible you're depleting your body's resources and aging your body quicker.

Ways to Stay Healthy

While stress is an inevitable part of life, as you consider stress awareness month, think about what you can do to stay healthy. One of the best ways to manage stress is to make small lifestyle changes before the frustration and negative emotions start to upset your mind and your body. These lifestyle changes include:

* Eating healthier
* Exercising consistently
* Keeping a routine in your day
* Getting enough sleep
* Taking time out for yourself
* Making relaxation a priority
* Keeping a journal
* Paying attention to how you feel, both inside and out
* Asking for support from others
* Talking about your stressors
* Getting professional help when you need it

Everyone is unique and will get stress relief in different ways, but the result is the same: peace of mind and a healthier body. As you start to incorporate lifestyle changes, you'll naturally want to take care of yourself in other ways too. Find what works for you during stress reduction month and above all - keep doing it.

For more destress tips, read my blog: Get a Handle on Stress During April

Author's Bio: 

About the Author:

Cheryl Hitchcock Author of "Give Your Head a Shake.. and change your life for the better" is a Stress Management and Spiritual Coach with over 13 years of counselling and spiritual experience. Cheryl enables her clients to manage, as well as eliminate stress and related problems. She also conducts seminars and workshops that cater to Stress Management and Spirituality. For more information please visit www.integritycounsellingservices.com and receive her free ebook "How to Overcome Depression without Medication".