The Effects Of Stress On Your Body
Stress – Just hearing that word can evoke negative feelings and emotions!
Stress in and of itself is not necessarily unhealthy – after all, without our ancestors reacting to threats through their “fight or flight” instinct, we wouldn’t even be here.
When it comes to learning that requires memory, chronic stress is a killer. It has devastating effects on both learning and memory, and children are particularly affected.
Stress triggers negative reactions in the immune system and contributes to inflammation. Inflammation is linked to a variety of health problems and diseases, from diabetes to cancer, asthma, and heart disease.
Previous studies show that the hippocampus (the brain’s memory center) undergoes an 8 percent contraction as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Chronic stress not only affects the way we feel and act, but it also affects our appearance! Many physiological processes are adversely affected and some are shut down due to the stress response. Respiration and heart rate increase, glucose is released (for immediate energy), and adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) flood the body.
The lack of blood flow to the skin, the functions of the immune system, digestion, growth and reproduction are put on hold.
This lack of blood flow to the skin affects how old we look.
But even worse than the loss of blood flow, is how chronic stress affects the aging brain.
Toxins, poor diet, lack of exercise or social connections, and repetitive routines contribute to the loss of brain cells as we age, but chronic stress compounds the problem. In fact, it kills brain cells.
Weight gain can result from chronic stress because digestion slows during a stress response, leading to a variety of digestive disorders. The result can be constipation, cramps, and diarrhea.
It is very clear that if we want to age gracefully and enjoy stellar health, we must manage chronic stress.
Here’s some stress relief help:
1. Increase social commitment. Simply sharing your daily problems with others is a great way to narrow down your problems and put them in perspective. Once you realize that you are not the only person who has to deal with crazy situations and people, you will feel much better about your luck in life.
2. Get more physical activity. Once again, exercise comes to the rescue. Adding moderately intense physical activity to your life is a great way to reduce the level of circulating cortisol in your body and decrease stress.
3. Watch shows that make you laugh. It is very difficult to laugh and also be stressed at the same time.
4. Get more sleep. Lack of sleep is a great way to amplify life’s little stresses and make them seem intolerable. If you are sleep deprived, find ways to hit the pillow sooner. A great night’s sleep can make a big difference in your outlook on life.
5. Eat better. It may sound strange to hear nutrition mentioned when it comes to stress reduction. But one of the consequences of elevated stress is that your body prioritizes the production of cortisol over the synthesis of other important hormones that your body needs to regulate itself properly.
It is time to take control of your life and control your stress.
Carolyn Hansen – Your Health and Fitness Specialist
“I help clients take charge of their health before circumstances eliminate choice. If your pursuit of a life of true physical and mental well-being is a journey, I will put you in the driver’s seat.”