This time of year, tension can be as common as shopping and decorating. Extended family and holiday celebrations make the season joyous, but dealing with and planning the holiday season can pull you in more ways than your mind and body are used to throughout the year. Some tension can be good for your concentration and problem-solving abilities, but elevated stress levels for extended periods of time can be detrimental to your health in many ways. To help keep your holiday season jolly, your Encinitas periodontist Dr. Ann Kania explains how stress affects your health and offers tips to help you relax.
Detrimental Effects of Stress
Your Immune System
Anxiety has long been linked to illnesses such as depression and heart disease. Studies have shown that people who are, or have recently been, under stress were more likely to develop a cold because their immune systems were less effective. The results showed that participants who were anxious had immune systems that were less sensitive to cortisol, a hormone that helps control the immune system’s inflammatory response.
Your Periodontal Health
Because stress inhibits your immune system, bacteria are able to grow and thrive more than normal. Therefore, it increases the development of dental plaque, which is predominantly comprised of oral bacteria. Excessive plaque formation and increased inflammation are major contributing factors to the development and destruction of periodontal disease.
Chill Out, for Your Health’s Sake
The first step to reducing your stress levels is identifying your key stress factors. Removing these factors, or at least limiting your exposure to them, can significantly reduce your anxiety levels.
- Learn your limits, and do not take on more responsibility than you are able to handle, which is a definite recipe for stress and anxiety.
- If one or more specific people are especially tedious to be around, try not to be around them. If total avoidance is not possible, find ways to limit the amount of time you spend around that person.
- Bottling your feelings can seem like the right thing to do rather than hurt someone’s feelings, but allowing that frustration to fester can result in resentment and continued emotional tension. Voice your concerns in a respectful manner, preferably alone, and try to resolve the issue rather than letting it risk your health.
- In times of extreme stress, following your instinct to get away may be a good idea. You probably shouldn’t jet away to a different country on impulse, but go somewhere you can be alone, or around people who are not a part of the situation. Find an activity that will distract you from the issue long enough for you to relax, or enjoy the time in silence if it is more comforting. Pray, meditate, exercise, go for a walk.
To learn more, contact Dr. Kania at our Encinitas periodontal care office by calling (706) 642-0711. We serve patients from Encinitas, San Diego, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, La Costa, and the neighboring communities.