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When you ignore the warning signs, chronic stress can take a toll on your body. So what are some of the signals? Well for starters, your stomach churns at any form of disagreement. When you can’t find a way to release stored-up frustration, you might try to release the pressure through overeating, smoking, drinking, taking drugs, or doing other things that could be harmful. You isolate yourself, which affects not only you, but your loved ones too. Debora M. Coty writes about what she terms the ‘Three Fs: outward fussing, inward fuming, and chronic fatigue’. She jokes, ‘I knew it was time to address my stress issues when my growl grew louder than the dog’s, and my family tactfully suggested I get a rabies shot.’ However, it’s the signs we don’t see that can do the most damage. Cortisol, a hormone our bodies release in the grasp of stress, adds to out-of-control feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. And studies verify that over time, stress raises your blood pressure, contributes to migraines and tension headaches, and results in the plaque that leads to heart disease. Chronic stress has been observed to increase cardiovascular risk by almost 50 per cent! Not to mention documented connections to alcoholism, anxiety attacks, asthma, cancer, colds, depression, flu, insomnia, obesity, strokes, and ulcers. And those uncontrolled crying spells you encounter when you’re exhausted are no coincidence. Stress lowers oestrogen levels, which can activate emotional outbursts. If this sounds familiar, it could be a sign to take action. Rearrange your priorities, slow down, start taking control of your life, and most importantly, turn to God. When you ‘prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer…You will be strong and free of fear’ (vv. 13, 15 NLT).

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