Stress can aggravate almost every health condition — including vein health. While we’re generally aware of the impact stress has on our mental health, we don’t always stop and think about how it affects our bodies. Even if you normally have healthy habits, too much stress releases hormones that can lead you to make unhealthy choices. And if you already have poor vein health, those choices can make varicose veins even more uncomfortable. Our team of vascular physicians in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center has extensive, specialized experience in vein care and has seen the impact stress can have on the veins. Today we’d like to talk about why stress affects your veins — and what you can do to better manage that stress.
Stress Weakens Your Circulation
When stress levels are high, blood pressure tends to spike. This, in turn, places undue pressure on your vein walls and can have a negative impact on your circulation. Why does this matter? Let’s look at how varicose veins are formed. Your veins are normally able to circulate blood throughout your body. Valves in your lower leg, however, have to work harder because they push blood upward against gravity. If those vein valves become weakened or damaged, blood can pool in the vein and form a varicose vein.
Blood pooling in the vein can cause the legs to feel heavy, itchy, fatigued, or painful — and if you add high blood pressure into the mix, these symptoms may feel even worse than normal.
Stress Can Cause Weight Gain
When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones to help you deal with the situation. Your blood sugar levels may rise to give you more energy. You may have higher cortisol levels, which sends you signals that you need more food to keep you energized. This isn’t bad in the short-term. Sometimes a little energy boost is exactly what you may need to get through a stressful situation. But if the stress is long-term, your blood sugar and cortisol levels remain high and tell you that you need more food than you actually do. This is why high levels of stress can cause you to gain weight. This can be a problem for vein health because excess weight means extra pressure on the veins. If you’re stressed and feeling constantly hungry, you may want to find healthy de-stressing techniques. Your veins — and overall health — will appreciate it in the long run.
Stress Can Derail Progress
Already making better choices for your vein health? That’s great! Lifestyle changes, like more exercise and low-salt food options, can help give your veins a little extra support. However, you may find that it’s harder to make these choices when life gets stressful. Going for a daily walk or going grocery shopping may seem low-priority compared to the other stressors of life. As we’ve seen, your veins can become more painful if not managed properly.
Now that we’ve looked at what stress can do to your vein health, let’s look at ways to better manage your stress. Stressful situations are impossible to avoid. There will always be periods of stress. But when we are constantly under pressure, we need to be taking steps to ensure our minds and bodies don’t suffer. Here are a few methods you can try for managing stress levels.
Check Your Work/Life balance
Work is one of the most common major stressors. When deadlines and expectations start creeping up, it’s easy to sacrifice the time that we should spend resting. Check in with your current schedule and ask whether a task really needs to be done outside of work hours. If it doesn’t, take that time for yourself. Spend time relaxing by yourself or with friends and family. Some separation from work could be what you need to help your mind and body relax.
Not only does exercise benefit your veins, but it can also lower your stress levels! Try different exercise forms and find one that you genuinely enjoy and want to do regularly. We recommend yoga, walking, and swimming as great low-impact exercises that are both calming and good for your vein health.
Dedicate a Day to Food Prepping
As we discussed previously, high cortisol levels from stress can cause us to overeat. You can curb this by planning your meals ahead of time. Having a packed and ready meal means that food is one less thing you’ll have to worry about during the week. And, when you start feeling the stress hunger, you’ll already have a healthy meal ready.
Seek Treatment for Your Vein Health
Your veins themselves may be a stressor. It’s common for varicose veins to feel painful. Sitting or standing for long periods of time during the workday may make the pain worse. Restless legs may keep you up at night. Visible varicose veins may even make you feel self-conscious about your leg’s appearance.
There’s an easy way to manage vein-related stress: Seek treatment from a vein specialist. Treatment is the only way to fully treat varicose veins so that you can live your life without leg pain. And Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center is dedicated to making vein care as stress-free as possible. We take the time to listen to our patients’ concerns, answer questions, and fully communicate our patients’ treatment plan every step of the way. All of our procedures are performed in-house, and we only use minimally-invasive treatment methods. We want you to be able to get treatment without feeling stressed about each step.
Stress may be a normal part of life, but varicose veins don’t have to be. Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center’s team of vascular physicians in Orlando treat each patient with the individual care they deserve, from the first phone call to schedule a consultation all the way through to post-procedure follow-up appointments. If you have varicose veins and the thought of treatment is a stressor, we’d love to speak with you and ease any concerns you have about vein care. You can call 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 today to schedule a consultation.