Effects of Stress on the Body

Everybody experience the effects of stress on the body at some level in our lives. Stress can affect people either young or old. Stress can be caused by things going on in your environment, things happening to your body, or even just your thoughts. In certain cases, stress is a good thing because it changes our body chemistry so we can better cope with danger by triggering the appropriate mental, physical, or emotional response. However, when stress is ongoing and we don't learn how to relieve it, serious complications can arise.

The effects of stress on the body can cause complications on your cardiovascular system. It can elevate your blood pressure, give you chest pains, and even bring on a heart attack.

When you experience stress, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline causes your heart rate to accelerate and your blood pressure to rise. Cortisol is called the stress hormone. It increases your blood sugar so your body has more energy for dealing with stress. It also causes your brain to take in more glucose while it depresses the overall functioning of your immune system and digestive system.

These physiological reactions are very useful in times of acute stressful situations such as when you are in physical danger but when stress is ongoing, these physical reactions take a toll on your body and lead to health complications. The disruption to your normal blood sugar regulation may reinforce the development of diabetes. Decreased immunity can make you more susceptible to illnesses. You may experience digestive problems, stomach pains, headaches, and backaches. Chronic stress also takes a toll on your mental well being.

The long term elevation of cortisol disrupts your normal body chemistry and that can lead to anxiety disorders, depression, feeling tired all the time, insomnia, and inability to focus. Another harmful consequence of stress is that it causes you to self medicate in order to find relief. In addition, your relationships may start to suffer and you could go into social withdrawal.

So how can you prevent these harmful effects of stress on the body?

- First you should identify the principal sources of your stress and eliminate them if you can.

- You may have to end an abusive relationship or change jobs.

- Regular exercise also helps as does eating healthy and make some improvements to live a healthier lifestyle.

- Do everything possible to sleep around the eight recommended hours or until you feel well rested and learn how to relax.

Replace your toxic relationships with supportive nurturing ones. Being with people you love and laughing often is a good antidote to stress. Sometimes talking about your problems makes them seem less powerful and will help alleviate your stress. While some stress is unavoidable, constant stress can make your life miserable and reduce your longevity. Stress reduction practices can improve the quality of your life and help you live longer.

If necessary, talk to your doctor or attend a support group.


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