Hayley's Healthy Habits: Stress and Your Health

April 08, 2024

The following article was written by Hayley Jackson, DNP, MSN, FNP-BC. A board-certified family nurse practitioner, Hayley provides Express Care Services at Wood River Health. She is passionate about holistic patient-centered care, lifestyle medicine and women’s health.

Stress and Your Health

The body is a miraculous machine, responding to the stress of hitting every red light on the way to work all the while your breakfast is digesting, and heart is beating without a thought. While the body is well equipped to manage stress, chronic, repeated stress can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being.

Stress impacts nearly every system of the body. The release of stress-related hormones, especially for prolonged periods of time, can decrease one’s ability to fight off infections and heal. This impact on the immune system can lead to getting sick and having a harder time fighting off infections and, in some people, can lead to elevations in blood sugar.

Prolonged muscle tension can lead to headaches, worsening chronic pain, and soreness. Additionally, effects on the heart and blood pressure can place certain individuals at an increased risk for an acute heart problem or high blood pressure. Aside from the physical risks, psychological worry can worsen mental wellness and impact one’s ability to have restful sleep. It is incredible how much stress impacts the body! For this reason, it is essential that we use strategies to keep stress in check.

Quick Tips to Reduce Stress

Talk it Out

Talk out your stress and worry with a trusted friend, family member, or health professional. Journal, pick up a paint brush (even if it’s for the first time), listen to music.

Get Outside

If your health and ability permits getting outside for even 10 minutes and listening to nature or opening the window can be a great distraction and grounding experience during stressful times.


Download a free app, join a meditation class, look up a five-minute meditation on YouTube, or reach out to our amazing behavioral health professionals at Wood River Health.

Write Things Down

Are you overwhelmed by your daily tasks or never ending to dos? Write them down! The act of getting them out of your working memory and onto a paper will alleviate stress, worry, and allow you to refocus your energy.

Avoid Unhealthy Coping Strategies

Avoid the use of substances or unhealthy behaviors. This will not address the core of the stress and often leads to more health risks. Aim to get 8 hours of sleep per night. If you or a loved one is struggling with this, please reach out to a healthcare professional right away or get emergency help.


After you write down your to do list, prioritize them. What needs to be done now and what can wait. This clarity may alleviate worry. Last but most importantly, prioritize yourself. Even if you have the busiest schedule, the most challenging of circumstances, you deserve this. If this is a challenge, I recommend starting by taking 5 minutes out of the day. Sit in a quiet space and take some deep breaths. Increase from there and reach out to your Wood River Health provider so we can support you along the way!


This article is not intended to treat, diagnose, or manage anyone’s physical or psychiatric health. This article is intended to create discussion, create community, and inform. Please discuss your specific health and psychiatric concerns with your personalized team of professionals or emergency services if you feel this is appropriate.