We all know stress quite well. It doesn’t feel good and we definitely aren’t fond of it. You’ve probably heard that stress can lead to actual health problems that transcend psychology and delve deep into the physical aspects of our daily lives. But how do we cope with stress? Sometimes a glass of wine and taking a powernap isn’t enough and we know it.
STRESS IN GENERAL
In order to fully understand the effects it has on our bodies, we need to learn what stress really is. Well, stress is a natural reaction to both good and bad experiences in our daily lives. The whole purpose of stress is beneficial – it is there to keep us healthy and safe. By releasing hormones and increasing heart and breathing rates, our bodies makes sure our brain gets more oxygen, which gives us an edge in tackling a problem – it helps you cope with difficult situations. Triggered by pressures of everyday responsibilities and situations, stress is caused by negative life events, such as divorce, loss, but also by physical illnesses and trauma. Chronic stress, however can seriously affect your health and well-being.
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM AND HEART
Stress greatly affects your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. During the stress response, the common indication of this is fast breathing and an increased heart rate, in the goal of swiftly distributing oxygen and an increased blood flow to your body core. The problems might ensue with respiratory issues, such as emphysema and asthma, which may cause difficulties in breathing.
The reason behind blood pumping faster is due to the fact your body’s aim is to enable you to have more strength and energy to take action by getting more oxygen to your brain and heart.
If the stressor doesn’t withdraw (chronic stress), this might make your heart work too hard for extended periods of time, leading your body into somewhat of an ‘overclocked’ state, which can lead to hypertension and other heart-related problems – strokes and heart attacks are common consequences here.
ENDOCRINE SYSTEM AND CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM
When it comes to stress, the two mentioned systems are responsible for your reaction. The central nervous system is in charge of channelling all your body’s resources to the cause of stress – it basically makes the decision on what your body will do, for your convenience.
When it comes to the brain, it is the hypothalamus that gets things going – it orders your adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline.
Once the danger is gone, the central nervous system tells your body to go back to normal – if this doesn’t happen (usually in hugely stressful situations, or when the stressor doesn’t go away), your body will take a toll.
Now, chronic stress is outlined by symptoms, such as general anxiety, depression and irritability. This may cause headaches or insomnia, but also not eating enough, overeating and/or substance abuse and social withdrawal. If the mentioned ailments fail to go away in time,psychological assessment is advised.
When your body is under stress, the liver produces extra blood sugar, to give you an energy boost. The unused blood sugar (glucose) is then absorbed by the body. When it comes to chronic stress, your body might be unable to keep up the pace with these extreme glucose levels, which may lead to you developing type 2 diabetes.
The mentioned hormone rush, along with rapid breathing and increased blood pressure can upset your digestive system and cause issues, such as acid reflux and heartburn.
Nausea, stomachaches, diarrhoea, constipation and vomiting are also known symptoms of stress.
A stimulated immune system is perhaps the main short term benefit of stress. Your wounds will heal faster and you will stave off infections more easily. However, cortisol, a stress hormone, can compromise your immune system over time, leading your body to inflammatory responses to foreign invaders. This is, again, one of the problems that chronic stress can cause over time – a compromised immune system can bring upon a wide variety of opportunistic diseases and infection and increase the recovery time from injury or illness.
To sum it up, stress, in general, is your body’s response to situations that require the consequences of stress. Chronic stress, however, can lead to many complications and can cause severe issues, which are stress-unrelated.
Author Bio – Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.