How Does Stress Affect the Body?
While stress has the ability to help keep you safe and help you perform well under pressure, when it becomes overwhelming, it has the potential to result in physical and mental health problems. Since you probably deal with deadlines, demands, and frustrations daily, it’s easy to overlook how stressed you are.
What Happens When You’re Stressed?
When good or bad stress occurs, the natural fight or flight response in the body kicks in, resulting in the adrenal glands releasing multiple chemicals, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones begin affecting your body, behavior, and thoughts immediately. Your blood pressure rises, your heart starts pounding, you breathe faster, and the body tenses. This results in the release of addition hormones that provide the energy you need to attack, defend yourself, or run. The problem is that the brain has a tough time differentiating between life-threatening events and routine, everyday stress.
The Problem with Chronic Stress
Stress can be positive, keeping you alert when needed or helping you keep your focus when giving an important presentation. Unfortunately, chronic stress can be very hard on the body, disrupting the body’s systems. This can disrupt your immune system, upset the digestive tract, speed up the aging process, and result in many health issues. Continual stress can leave you feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. It may become tough to sleep or you may begin eating more or less. Chronic stress may also have mental health effects, leaving you depressed, angry, or anxious. Some people experience physical symptoms with chronic stress, such as elevated blood pressure, headaches, chest pain, and stomach upset.
Managing Your Stress
It’s impossible to eliminate stress from your life, but you can manage stress to improve your health. Some of the best ways to manage stress include using relaxation techniques and exercising regularly. A healthy diet high in good proteins, fresh fruits and veggies, and healthy fats can also help your body tolerate stress. Great ways to break the stress cycle include listening to music, doing yoga, going for a walk, chatting with a friend, playing with a pet, or playing a favorite sport.
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