Everyone experiences stress. Stress can be physiological (due to infection, injury, disease), or psychological (due to anxiety, conflict, threats to safety or well-being).

Psychological stress is something that we contend with every day. It has negative connotations, but we also experience stress in response to positive life events, such as getting married or starting a family, in addition to emotionally challenging events, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce or financial problems. Being newly diagnosed or living with a chronic illness, such as kidney disease, can also be a significant source of stress.

When channeled properly, stress can serve as a positive motivator for handling life’s challenges. However, too much or constant stress can take its toll on your health. 

Physical responses to stress include faster breathing and heart rate, a spike in blood pressure, dilated pupils, tense muscles and increased levels of fats and sugars in the bloodstream. This helps the body deal with immediate dangers and crises, but over time can contribute to health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, and place you at increased risk for kidney disease. Read more about how to keep the kidneys healthy.

If you already have heart or kidney disease, then the body’s reactions to stress can become more dangerous. 

While it is very difficult to completely get rid of stress, here are 6 ways to reduce stress, protect your kidneys and maintain your overall health:

1-Exercise regularly. 

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins – chemicals that have been shown to boost mood and reduce feelings of pain. Regular exercise can also help lower high blood pressure and even small amounts of physical activity have been proven to lower stress levels. 

2-Set aside time to relax. 

Relaxation means something different to everyone. Carve out “me” time in your calendar to do something you find relaxing. This can include things you can do easily at home on a regular basis, such as yoga and meditation, or something that may be more of a special treat, such as taking a vacation or getting a massage. You don't like meditation, here is why it's recommended

3-Eat healthier foods. 

When you’re stressed, it may be easy to just grab for the potato chips, but junk foods are typically highly processed and high in sodium and phosphorus additives which can have negative effects on the kidneys. 

Download our kidney-friendly smoothies recipe book!

4-Do a relaxing hobby you love. 

Reading, painting, writing, anything that distract your mind and body that you love to do. Read more about a mindful lifestyle

5-Get plenty of sleep. 

A good night's sleep goes a long way. Being well rested is more important than many people realize. Did you know that studies have shown that not getting enough sleep may lead to an increased appetite and in turn, weight gain?

6-Listen to music

Whether slow and soothing, or beats to get you moving, listening to music (and even dancing and singing along!) can put you in less stressed mood. 

Find an activity you enjoy — whether it's an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress.

Act Early. Love Your Kidneys. Talk To Your Kidney Doctor.

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