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Stress leads to poor health which leads to more stress. Here are some tips for breaking out of that cycle.

As we shared with you earlier this week, the most cited reason for stress in America is health. According to a joint poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 60 percent of those surveyed claimed their health — and in particular, poor health conditions — were responsible for their stress.

The unfortunate catch-22 here is that, just as weak health feeds into stress, stress then in turn feeds into weak health. As Dr. David Prescott, of Maine's Acadia Hospital, tells local news affiliate WABI-TV5, high stress levels can significantly contribute to risks of heart disease, obesity and chronic illness. Of course, when people's stress makes them sick, their feeling sick leaves them even more stressed. It's a dangerous cycle that can be difficult to break out of — but not impossible.

Here are some of Dr. Prescott's tips for freeing yourself from the cyclical and destructive effects of stress on health:

  • Be proactive rather than passive: While stress may feel like something we just have to live with and that nothing can be done about it, the fact is that that's simply not true. Taking a more active approach to combating stress has a host of brain health benefits, giving you a greater feeling of self-control and, consequently, reducing feelings of helplessness and depression.
  • Talk to your doctor: As simple a suggestion as this sounds, one of the conclusions found in the aforementioned study was that a majority of respondents simply don't talk to their primary care physicians about stress — and all the same, their doctors aren't asking their patients about stress either. If you're feeling stressed, it's imperative to bring it up during your next check-up.

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