Why Stress is the Biggest Killer in the United States

What are the two leading causes of death in the United States?

If you ask that question to the average person, they’ll probably know the answer. After all, we all know about the catastrophic effects of heart disease, and we all know people who have died from cancer. Combined, these two chronic conditions account for nearly 45% of all annual deaths in the United States, and nothing else gets close. But what if we were to tell you that stress was the biggest killer of all?

 

Why Stress is the Biggest Killer in the United States

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), chronic stress is closely linked to the 6 leading causes of death in the USA: heart disease, cancer, lung conditions, accidents, suicides, and cirrhosis of the liver. Let’s take heart disease as an example. It is currently the biggest killer in the US, having taken over from cancer a few years ago. Part of that increase is the result of improved cancer care and more effective medications, but we’re also living more sedentary and stressful lifestyles, and so the numbers keep climbing. If you have chronic stress, you are more likely to suffer from a stroke or heart attack. Direct links have also been discovered between stress and episodes of cardiovascular disease. For whatever reason, these two seem to go hand-in-hand, and the older you get, the greater those risks become. Stressed men and women are also more likely to smoke, drink, and eat foods high in saturated fat and sugar, all of which can increase their risk of heart disease. As for cancer, research has suggested that stress can cause cancers to return and hasten their spread. Stressed people are also more likely to take their own lives and engage in risky and destructive behavior. And that’s before we consider the fact that stressed people may distance themselves from friends and family, potentially increasing their risks due to the links between loneliness and an early demise. When it comes to health, we tend to overlook the obvious. We can’t see the forest for the trees. The general consensus, for instance, is that heart disease is caused by a lack of exercise, smoking, and a bad diet, and that cancer is just “one of those things” that you either get or don’t get. These sorts of beliefs are rooted in truth, as an unhealthy lifestyle is a major contributing factor for heart disease and genetic conditions can make you more prone to cancer, but they’re also used as excuses. After all, if cancer is all down to luck, then you can eat what you want and smoke what you want—nothing you do will make a difference. In actual fact, every decision that you make can increase or reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Finding ways to de-stress your life, therefore, is one of the most impactful changes that you can make.

 

How to Stay Stress Free

Now that you know how damaging stress can be, what can you actually do to remedy it and live stress-free?

1. Focus on the Cause

At UBN, we understand the difference that a strong and healthy mind can have on your career, home life, and health. After all, we created products like Activate, a cognition-boosting formula that was formulated by doctors and is backed by dozens of clinical trials. When you’re depressed, anxious, or otherwise struggling with your own mind, the problems are often external, and stress is no different. One of the first things that you should do, therefore, is look for the root cause of that stress. Sometimes, the answer can be relatively simple. For instance, if you find that you’re at your most stressed in the morning, then it may be that you’re not sleeping enough, are addicted to caffeine (in which case, you won’t feel “right” until you get your fix) or have kids running around. If you start your day off like that, it can be hard to get back on track and you should look at reducing your caffeine intake, getting more sleep, or adopting a less stressful routine. If you run your own business, work 15 hours a day, and are constantly dealing with angry clients/customers and incompetent employees, you may need a complete schedule overhaul.

2. Change Your Diet

Stress can be exacerbated by caffeine, alcohol, and drug consumption. Not only do withdrawals cause frustration and irritability, but the substances themselves may make it difficult for you to focus, and that can leave you stressed and annoyed as you’re trying to work. By eating a balanced diet and reducing your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and recreational drugs, you will be more focused and balanced, and that should reduce your stress levels.

3. Exercise

Exercise can make you sharper, improve your hormone balance, and even help you to sleep more. All these things will reduce your stress levels and help you to manage it better. More importantly, exercise will strengthen your heart.

4. Take Some Time to Relax

Whether you’re meditating after a long day at the office, relaxing in the bath before you go to bed, or just taking some time to read a book, you need that alone time. Stress has a way of building up over time, and if you’re not interrupting it and are letting it build, it will just get worse.

5. Write it Down

Make a note of the times when you’re feeling stress and record what you were doing at those times. It will help you to recognize what is making you stressed, but it will also give you a chance to conceptualize it, at which point you’ll realize just how inconsequential it is and how unjustified your reactions are.

 

Summary: Why Stress is a Leading Cause of Death

As noted above, all the decisions that you make in your life can impact your health and longevity. Of course, there are exceptions. You could have a genetic predisposition that means you will be struck down by a heart attack in your 20s, regardless of how healthy you are. Maybe you’ll be more prone to developing cancer. But you could also go for a run and be hit by a bus. You just can’t legislate for those things, and so you shouldn’t try. Focus on the things that you do have control over, do everything in your power to reduce your stress levels and improve your diet, and you should reap the rewards over the long term.

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