Skeptics have long believed that meditation and other stress-reduction techniques are nice but ineffectual practices that do little for you. Nothing could be further from the truth—and now we have the science to prove it.
The effects of chronic stress on the body
There is little doubt that chronic stress has harmful effects on the body, and it acts in multiple ways. To begin with, the ripple effects of stress undermine healthy behavior. If you’ve ever powered your way through a taxing day on a fistful of candy bars and cigarettes, you understand the issue firsthand. But over and above such impacts on behavior, stress affects the body directly.
Abundant evidence shows that chronic stress chips away at physical health, pushing blood pressure to dizzying heights and harming the heart. It plays a role in diabetes, asthma, and gastrointestinal disorders. High levels of stress may even speed up the aging process.
By contrast, people exhibiting less stress tend to be in better health, and now we’re starting to understand why. Stress management can benefit the entire body, right down to your genes.