Nowadays, stress is a word we take for granted. We use it to describe a general feeling frustration or being under pressure, but do you really know what your body is going through when you get stressed-out?
Long ago, when humans were still a bit low in the food chain, our bodies were on the constant alert for danger. At the slightest sound, scent, or movement we were primed to make a stand and defend ourselves or take off running into the bush. Our glands released hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Our hearts pumped hard and fast. Our cardiovascular system sent blood from our core to our extremities to prepare us for fight or flight.
We owe our modern existence to this amazing reaction. It was absolutely appropriate when running from a ravenous tiger. The problem is that though we don’t often have to fear being eaten alive anymore, our bodies are still geared for fight or flight and overreact to little everyday problems.
Something as simple as a presentation for work can trigger dozens of stress reactions in your body and mind. It begins with the rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and dry mouth. These symptoms usually disappear after the event is over, but the effects of long term, or chronic stress on the body is so damaging that it can lead to premature aging and fatal disease.
Stress hormones disrupt the pH balance in your body. Not only does acid build up in your tissue from habitual the muscle tension, shallow breathing and poor circulation that comes from chronic stress, secondary effects surface from the choices people make when they are under stress.
Many people do not sleep properly, eat bad foods and drink more caffeine and alcohol. The physiological reactions combined with unhealthy ways of coping with stress compound the stress on the body’s system. This can lead to health problems with your organs, nervous system and brain.
5 Ways Stress Damages Your Body
1. Stress lowers your immune system–Stress makes you more susceptible to bacteria, viruses and disease which take advantage of the acidic environment and the weakened state of the immune system. It is also thought to trigger auto-immune diseases in which the body’s defense mechanism attacks its own cells.
2. Stress starves your digestive system–When your body is under stress, less blood is pumped to your digestive organs. This leaves less oxygen and nutrients for your stomach, liver, intestines etc. Symptoms may include constipation, diarrhea, indigestion but eventually may lead to serious chronic problems like ulcers, gastritis, colitis and IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome).
3. Stress leads to cardiovascular and heart disease–Chronic stress increases sugars and fatty substances in your blood stream and raises your blood pressure, making you more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke. The hormone, cortisol, is also linked to increased visceral fat, which compounds the cardiovascular problem.
4. Stress kills brain cells–Yes, believe it or not, stress is linked to a decrease in neurons and the premature aging of the brain. Too much cortisol in the brain may ‘excite brain cells to death.’
5. Stress makes you grow old–Scientific studies show that chronic stress may shorten the lifespan of certain cells by damaging bundles of genes inside. This causes the human body to deteriorate more rapidly and ‘could explain why intense, long-term emotional strain can make people get sick and grow old before their time.’
Stress also can lead to anxiety, depression, insomnia, muscle spasms, back pain, headaches and weight gain/loss. There is no doubt about the power our mind has on the health of our body.
Although stress is impossible to avoid, you can change the way you deal with stress to prevent the many diseases related to it. You can also change your diet and lifestyle to counteract the acid formed in your body while under stress.
Eating raw vegetables, doing mild exercise and staying hydrated by drinking alkaline water will protect your body and keep you strong and healthy so you can better deal with the everyday challenges of life.
Look for next week’s blog for natural stress management tips!
If you have any stress relieving tips to share,
please comment below.