Few would argue that we are living through an extraordinarily stressful time. But how many people consider the impact that stress has on our health?

Stress has been shown to have a direct correlation to health outcomes, and managing it is important for overall wellbeing. This is especially true for the six in ten Americans already managing a chronic medical condition. Whether they have heart disease, diabetes, cancer or another chronic condition, people with chronic conditions would benefit from stress-management strategies.

When you are under stress, your body responds by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Those hormones are important to help your body properly respond to stressful situations. However, if the stress is not alleviated and the body’s remains under stress for a long duration of time, there can be negative effects on the body. 

  • Weakened Immunity
  • Weight Gain
  • Sleep Problems
  • Heart Disease
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Digestive Problems

These negative effects can compound the impact of chronic disease, but there are steps that can be taken to help patients alleviate stress.  

Encourage Exercise

Aerobic exercise has been shown in numerous studies to reduce stress, and now a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that resistance training was also associated with a reduction in stress. 

Provide Referrals to Social Services

Economic Stability is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the social determinants of health. The pandemic has impacted employment, food security, and housing security. Referrals to social services and assistance programs can help members get the support they need and reduce the stress caused by a vulnerability in these areas. 

Suggest Safe Socialization

Relationships and interactions with friends and family are also recognized by the CDC as contributors to health. In a popular TED talk, the psychiatrist Robert Waldinger explains, “Social connections are really good for us, and loneliness kills. It turns out that people that are more socially connected to family, to friends, to the community are happier, physically healthier, and they live longer than people that are less well connected.” During this time of quarantines, lockdowns, and social distancing – when people with chronic conditions are at high risk for COVID-19 and are encouraged to be vigilant – it is important to help patients discover options for safe socialization. 

Meditation and Other Relaxation Techniques

Carnegie Mellon University conducted research that showed that 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation for three consecutive days resulted in stress reduction. With the increase in the popularity of meditation has come several free resources for beginners. Members can be directed to meditation apps like Insight Timer, podcasts, and YouTube videos to get started with a meditation practice. 

Remind Members About the Nurse Advice Line 

It can be stressful to have a health-related question and not know what to do, and that stress has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Remind members that they can always call the Nurse Advice line to get answers to their medical questions.