Guest post- What stress can do to your body

Hey peeps

I hope you are all doing well. I was sent this article for my blog, and I was really interested to read it. I am someone who can get stressed very easily indeed. Generally I think a lot of it is to do with my personality- I can be a bit of a worrier and a bit jumpy, and very nervous about things too. I have got a lot better at dealing with stressful situations- I remember reading once to ask yourself “will this matter in a year?”. That really helped me, as I find it helps me to realise that I need not worry about a lot of things. But I still get that feeling of being overwhelmed with things on my “to-do” list, and worry about having time to fit everything in.

Anyway, read on and let me know what you think (or if you have any good tips of your own).

What can stress do to your body?

Your kids are arguing.  The house payment is overdue.  The cat’s sick. Your car needs a tune up and the hours at work aren’t enough to keep anything extra in savings.

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone.  The day to day stresses of life can pile up and it can be overwhelming.  Not only does stress make you feel frazzled and anxious, but it can also lead to serious issues with your body.  Stress is a normal part of life and to an extent our bodies were made to handle it. But when stress goes overboard and becomes a dominating force in your everyday life, your body and your mind will suffer.   Often, stress may be affecting you and you won’t even know it!

When you’re stressed, your body changes secretions of chemicals and hormones in your body to react to it.  Your adrenal glands are the main part of your body that controls your “fight of flight” reaction –this is where cortisol is released. The adrenals also help maintain blood sugar and normalize your body’s balance of salt and water.  It doesn’t matter if you are running for your life, or just trying to finish your next series of deadlines at work – your body doesn’t know the difference and it will respond in the same way. If the adrenals are in constant overdrive, there can be huge negative effects to the rest of your body. Our bodies simply weren’t designed to be stressed all the time.

Did you know that when cortisol is released on a regular basis, it can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to sickness?  It can also suppress your appetite and increase your levels of blood glucose so you’ll naturally desire unhealthy carbohydrates and fats.  If you’re stressed, your body also releases adrenaline into your bloodstream.  Imagine you’re being chased by an angry colony of bees. What happens? Your body reacts: your heart starts pounding, you feel a rush of blood to the head and heart, and there is a natural burst of energy.  You’re ready to run.  Well, even in your daily activities, stress can cause adrenaline to course through your body.  And if this is happening for an extended period of time, you’ll see effects on your body: acne, back pain, muscle tension, throbbing headaches, and even increased blood pressure or high cholesterol.

In men, stress can affect testosterone and cause fatigue as well as a lack of sex drive.  For women, stress can cause increased cortisol and decreased oestrogen production.  This is a recipe for painful and irregular menstrual cycles.

Furthermore, stress will affect your sleep. In stress mode, your body is in that fight or flight state – it’s going to have a hard time shutting down enough to rest calmly.  So, not only are you dealing with stress, but you’re dealing with fatigue, which can affect your brain’s ability to think clearly.  And without sleep, your body isn’t given the chance to recharge or refuel to keep your immune system strong.

If you feel that the stresses of your life are starting to control you and are seriously affecting your quality of life, look closely at your health insurance policy and find a doctor that specialises in stress disorders.   Be sure to explain to your doctor your detailed medical history so a thorough plan can be made based on that.

It’s time to get out of survival mode and into a life free of constant stress.  Talk to your doctor about ways you can reduce stress while still living a healthy, active lifestyle!

Do you feel that you get affected by stress? What are your top tips for staying stress-free?

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4 thoughts on “Guest post- What stress can do to your body”

  1. Your first paragraph described me exactly! I live by to do lists and get so worked up when I don’t feel that I’ve ticked enough off in a day. I find that during term time I run on adrenaline and if I relax in the slightest during the holidays, this is when I become ill and struggle to concentrate. I’m working on minimising stress levels but it’s very hard to do this time of year, exam season…

    1. Maybe that is just what being a teacher means! I think it can be hard as there is a lot of paperwork etc that needs to be done but can’t be done during teaching time, so that all gets pushed into lunch time or evenings.

  2. I’m not generally a stressy person, but I know I put my body under a lot of stree with training, I think I was on the point of adrenal burnout during marathon training so I take rhodiola and maca as stress adatogens.

  3. I am definitely a worrier and I know that it isn’t good for me (but I can’t help it 😉 !)… I used to try and battle it by going for a run etc. (to sort of ‘get rid of the stress’) but actually find the best thing to be yoga/taking it easy. And being by water 🙂 Interesting post!

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