Is Body Damage From Chronic Stress Reversible?

We've all heard this simple yet serious statement: "Stress can kill you." Although it may sound a bit exaggerated, it reflects the true impact that stress has on your body. 

With mounting responsibilities and constant change, stress is a normal part of our existence. According to the Cleveland Clinic, our bodies are designed and equipped to manage stress. Stress plays an important role in your body adapting to new situations. It causes your body to go into a state of "fight or flight" that changes your heart rate, breathing, vision, or whatever is needed to overcome an emergency.

However, repeated stress from the demands of work and home life can lead to negative effects on your health, causing symptoms such as pain and high blood pressure. Without periods of rest and recovery from repeated stress, the body becomes chronically stressed, which may lead to damage and disease (per Cleveland Clinic).

A healthy, balanced lifestyle can help reverse body damage

According to 2017 research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 75-90% of human diseases are related to the body's stress response. Is there any way that we can reverse the curse of chronic stress? Dr. Aoife O'Donovan, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California–San Francisco (UCSF), told mindbodygreen, "We can have situations that accelerate the aging of our cells—but then we can also stop those processes and maybe undo or partially reverse some of those effects."

There are four research-backed ways that we can reverse the damage of chronic stress, according to mindbodygreen. One of the easiest ways to recover from stress is through sleep. Adequate sleep allows our bodies and brains to recover from the inflamed state that occurs during chronic stress. Secondly, research has shown that regular exercise reduces the impact that stress has on the body. Thirdly, eating a healthy diet creates the right environment for cells to recover from stress and inflammation. Fourthly, spending time in relationships that are fulfilling and positive can help decrease biological aging due to stress. O'Donovan noted that having healthy friendships makes us feel safer and more secure. 

Although it's easier said than done, living a life of healthy balance is the key to reversing the damage of stress.