Stress Management Effects on Health Why You Should Take Care of Your Body and Health By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 13, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Matt Dutile/ Getty Images Health problems, even minor ones, can interfere with or even overshadow other aspects of your life. Even relatively minor health issues such as aches, pains, lethargy, and indigestion take a toll on your happiness and stress levels. One way to improve your ability to cope with stress and feel better is to make a commitment to healthier habits. Poor health habits can add stress to your life and also play a role in how well you are able to cope with stress. The stress that comes from poor health is significant. Health challenges also affect other areas of your life. Health problems can make daily tasks more challenging, create financial stress, and even jeopardize your ability to earn a living. Stress itself can exacerbate health issues from the common cold to more serious conditions and diseases, so maintaining healthy habits can pay off in the long run. This article looks at some healthy habits that have a positive impact on your life. Press Play for Advice On Creating Good Habits Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring Katy Milkman, PhD, shares how to build healthy habits to create lasting change. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Eat a Healthy Diet for the Right Reasons Rather than eating right solely for the promise of looking better in your jeans, you should also make a commitment to eating foods that will boost your energy levels and keep your system running smoothly. This is because what you eat can not only impact your short-term and long-term health, it can affect your stress levels. It's much harder to cope with stress if you are hungry or malnourished. Hunger can make you more emotionally reactive to stressors, leaving you irritable or even angry in the face of minor daily annoyances. Watching what you eat can be a stress management tool as well as a health preserver. Another reason it's a good idea to maintain a healthy diet is that your diet can have an effect on your mood. While the effects of an unhealthy diet are cumulative and become more apparent in the long-term, you are also less likely to feel well in the short-term if you are eating a diet heavy on sugar-laden, fatty, or nutritionally empty foods. Some of the more immediate effects poor diet include feeling: LethargicJitteryMoodyFatiguedHungryWeak Eating well has important long-term consequences, but it may also help you feel more energetic and optimistic in the short-term as well. If you remind yourself that what you eat now will affect how you feel in the coming hours, it may be easier to stick to a healthy diet. Make Sleep a Priority Sleep can have a serious impact on your overall health and well-being. Make a commitment to get enough sleep at night. If you haven't gotten adequate sleep, you may be less productive, less mentally sharp, and otherwise more prone to the effects of stress. Some good habits that can help: Try to get a full eight hours of sleep each nightAvoid caffeine after 2 pmAvoid eating foods in the evening that might disrupt your sleepGo to bed at the same time each night; wake up at the same time each morningCreate a restful sleep environment; make sure your bed is comfortable and keep the room at an optimal temperature for sleeping (between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit)Adopt a calming technique such as meditation to help yourself relax each night before bed You may be surprised by how much less stressed you feel when you're not tired if this is an issue for you right now. Following good strategies can help if you have trouble getting quality sleep when stressed. Not only will you sleep better, but you’ll feel better all day. Find a Fitness Habit That Works for You We've all heard the advice to eat right and exercise, but it can be difficult to fit in workouts around a busy schedule, particularly when you're feeling exhausted from stress. One effective strategy for making fitness a regular part of your life is to build an exercise habit around your other habits—either attach a workout to your morning routine, your lunchtime habits, or make it a regular part of your evening—you get the idea. If you make a morning jog part of your getting-ready-for-work routine, for example, it is much more likely to happen than if you wait until you feel like jogging and happen to have a free half-hour, especially if you lead a busy life like most of us and are tired at the end of the day. Another important way to make exercise easier is to choose an activity that you actually enjoy. Some examples include walking while listening to an audiobook or attending a class at your gym where good music drives up your energy level. Finding an activity that you enjoy means that you are more likely to stick with it. Find a form of exercise that you'd like to do and then find a time when you can make it work with your schedule. Watch What You Put Into Your Body Avoid putting unhealthy substances into your body; nicotine, excess alcohol, and even excessive caffeine can take a toll on your health in the long run, but also make you feel lousy overall in your day-to-day life. In fact, it helps if you can avoid allowing toxic thinking patterns from exacerbating your stress levels as well. Find healthier ways to manage stress, and you'll enjoy double health and stress management benefits. A Word From Verywell These are three important ways to take care of your body that you may not naturally think of as stress relievers. If you set goals to make these ideas a reality in your life, not only will you feel the difference immediately, but you will also see results in multiple areas of your life in the coming weeks and months. Few habits come without effort, but these three can make a significant impact on your life, and are well worth the effort. 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057–1072. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480 Yau YH, Potenza MN. Stress and eating behaviors. Minerva Endocrinol. 2013;38(3):255–267. Owen L, Corfe B. The role of diet and nutrition on mental health and wellbeing. Proc Nutr Soc. 2017;76(4):425-426. doi:10.1017/S0029665117001057 Breymeyer KL, Lampe JW, McGregor BA, Neuhouser ML. Subjective mood and energy levels of healthy weight and overweight/obese healthy adults on high-and low-glycemic load experimental diets. Appetite. 2016;107:253–259. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2016.08.008 Choi DW, Chun SY, Lee SA, Han KT, Park EC. Association between sleep duration and perceived stress: salaried worker in circumstances of high workload. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(4):796. doi:10.3390/ijerph15040796 Gardner B, Lally P, Wardle J. Making health habitual: the psychology of 'habit-formation' and general practice. Br J Gen Pract. 2012;62(605):664–666. doi:10.3399/bjgp12X659466 Rood L, Roelofs J, Bögels SM, Alloy LB. Dimensions of negative thinking and the relations with symptoms of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents. Cognit Ther Res. 2010;34(4):333–342. doi:10.1007/s10608-009-9261-y By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.