NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Stress is something that most of us deal with daily, and it’s not always a bad thing. Stress helps us get things done. But, there are times where stress becomes hazardous to our health, and it’s something more people are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. We reached out to Dr. Jenni Blackford, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, to learn more.
Dr. Blackford told News 2, “Stress impacts every single part of your body. And the things that might be most visible for people right now might be weight gain or weight loss. So stress can cause obesity; it can cause diabetes.”
Many have also reported other visible signs of stress, like gray hair. “Stress can actually kill the cells that are responsible for coloring your hair. And they don’t come back.”
But why is the stress caused by the pandemic worse for you than your average everyday stress? It has a lot to do with the duration of the stress.
“So there’s good stress that helps motivate us to respond to challenges. It keeps us alive. It gives us that burst of energy to prepare for something. But when we have chronic toxic stress like we have right now, it really affects every single system in your body.”
The good news is, there are a few things that you can do to combat stress. Dr. Blackford has a few recommendations.
“Watching TV is not going to do it. We need to do things like mindfulness. And there’s a great program called mindfulness stress reduction. You might do meditation or other stress management. Exercise is a phenomenal stress reducer. And also social support. So reaching out to your friends, having conversations.”