It’s ironic that April is Stress Awareness Month, because Tax Day falls on April 15. Many of us get stressed when it comes to tax returns and finances, so it’s only fitting that we’re reminded of how harmful stress can be to our bodies and minds if we don’t keep it under control.
For example, a recent study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests that there is a link between allergy flare-ups, stress and negative mood.
Researchers found that participants who suffered from allergies had a higher level of perceived stress than participants who didn’t suffer from allergies. Allergy flares were also associated with negative mood. So basically, people who have frequent emotional stress tend to suffer more from allergy flares and negative mood.
Another study published in the journal Human Reproduction directly affects women. Researchers found a relationship between stress and infertility/decreased fertility.
Researchers measured the levels of alpha-amylase, a protein, in saliva of women who were trying to get pregnant over a period of 12 months. Higher levels of alpha-amylase indicate increased stress.
The data showed that women who had the highest levels of alpha-amylase took longer to get pregnant when compared to women with the lowest levels of the protein. Those women with the highest levels of alpha-amylase had more than two times the risk for infertility.
Jan Bruce, the CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium, an online support system for stress management, said in an email that she believes people are more aware now that their stress levels are too high and impact all aspects of their lives.
“Stress not only makes it harder to function day to day, but it also makes it more difficult for you to create the very changes that would relieve stress,” Bruce said.
“Stress can keep you trapped in bad behaviors, creating a damaging and vicious cycle. The more stressed you are, the worse you feel, and the worse you feel, the more stress takes hold.”
Despite acknowledging our tendency toward stress in this fast-paced world, it's still difficult to actually lower stress levels.