How Stress Affects Your Body
Stress is a natural response when you feel that you don’t have the adequate resources to deal. In the right amount, stress can be a positive force, helping you to do your best, stay alert and energized. Excessive stress, however, can have a negative effect on your body.
- Nervous System
- Respiratory System
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Muscular System
- Immune System
When a stressful situation occurs, the central nervous system (CNS) triggers a “fight or flight” response. This triggers the adrenal glands to release stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. If the CNS does not return to it's normal state, it can have a serious impact on the body.
Chronic stress can cause symptoms like irritability, anxiety and depression. It can also lead to other problems such as bruxism, eating disorders, drug abuse or social withdrawal.
During a stress response, you breathe faster to distribute oxygen and blood to the body’s central core. This can can be worrisome if you suffer from a pre-existing breathing problem, such as asthma or emphysema. That is why people often tell you to focus on your breathing.
One of the first obvious signs of stress is your thumping heartbeat. That’s because stress hormones raise your heart rate and constrict blood vessels, leading to increased blood pressure.Chronic stress will cause your heart to work too hard for too long. This can ultimately put you at risk for hypertension, heart palpitations, heart attack, or stroke.
Stress can upset your digestive system and affect how food moves through your body. It can increase your risk for heartburn and acid reflux. Stress can cause you to experience nausea, stomach pain or vomiting.
On top of that, chronic stress can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. Under stress, your liver produces glucose (sugar) to give you a boost of energy. If you are under constant stress, your body may not be able to keep up with the spike in sugar.
Under stress, your muscles contract to protect themselves from injury. Once the stress is gone, they are able to relax again. If you suffer from long term stress, your muscles never get the chance to relax. The constant tension causes bruxism, headaches, back and shoulder pain, and body aches.
Prolonged stress can increase cortisol and other corticosteroids levels. In the short term, there is actually some benefits to higher cortisol levels. Over time, it can compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to viral illnesses.
60-80% of doctors visits are related to stress, yet only 3% of patients received stress management help. Take control today. If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, talk to your doctor about potential solutions.