Stress is believed to contribute to heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, depression, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, Alzheimer's disease, premature aging and death. Research shows that stress seems to accelerate aging, subtracting 9 to 17 years from a person's life, according to WebMD.
While stress may seem psychological, it causes measurable physiological changes in the body, including elevated blood pressure and pulse rate, constriction of blood vessels, faster breathing, and the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Stress triggers a fight-or-flight bodily reaction, according to the Mayo Clinic, but the demands of modern life can result in a continuous state of stress. The May Clinic advises individuals to identify their stress triggers and devise ways to deal with them. Some triggers are easily dismissed, such as turning off the TV when the news is distressing. For other triggers such as job performance, the only defense is to learn how to change the reaction to it.
WebMD suggests ways to control stress, such as deep breathing techniques, focusing on the present rather than past or future events, trying to perceive a problem in a different and more positive light, and putting problems in perspective by not exaggerating their impact. Meditation, a healthy diet and yoga are other popular antidotes to stress.