One of our viewers, Diana, posed a question for Dr. Mehmet Oz that many of us can relate to:
Q: My question is about stress. I am a 32-year-old mother of two. I have a full-time career, recently my family and I moved out of state, we're in the process of building a new home—all during this pandemic. My son is also doing virtual remote learning.
I'm cranky, I'm snacking more than I typically would and on sugary, sweeter things that I wouldn't ordinarily reach for. I try and find the time for exercise and self-care, but as any mother would tell you, that's challenging most days. I'm not sleeping well, I oftentimes try and find some levity on social media…and that can cause more stress.
I'm wondering, what impact is all of this having on my health, especially thinking about long-term? And the million dollar question, what can I do?
— Diana, viewer
"Stress does have an impact on your health and you're not alone," Dr. Oz says. "I actually surveyed our audience—90% reveal an increased amount of anxiety."
"Chronic stress impacts three vital organs: the brain, the stomach and the heart. It weakens the immune system and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal problems and possibly even cancer," the doctor explains.
"Research shows that stress affects the female heart on a microvascular level. Plaque builds up within small arteries," Dr. Oz says. "On a cellular level, stress increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol, causing inflammation and free radical damage that contributes to the premature aging of the body's cells, shrinking of the brain and can add dangerous belly fat."
There is an at-home stress test you can do that might reveal whether your stress is "chronic," the doc says. It has to do with your posture.
How To Do An At-Home Posture Test
"Lean up against a wall. If you lean up and your shoulders touch the wall, then you're doing fine," Dr. Oz says. If both shoulders don't make contact with the wall, it means you have hunched or raised shoulders, which is a chronic stress indicator, according to the doctor. "It means that your body is actually now paying the price for the stress you're feeling," he says.
Easy Way To Improve Posture
"When I talk to friends, I always put my hands behind my back and just sit or stand like [that]," Dr. Oz says. "That little mover pulls your shoulders back. You can do it at the dinner table, you can do it daily. Instead of walking around [hunched over], walk around like that."
Even if you don't have the best posture, don't panic. The doctor also gave Diana advice on how she can manage her stress. Get Dr. Oz's tips for coping with stress here.