Stress and How It Affects Your Body

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How Stress Affects your BodyStress isn’t intended by nature to be a bad thing. It’s an effective survival system that has been within us since the beginning of time. When stress or an external threat are present, it ignites a biochemical process known as the “fight or flight response”  that provides our body with a rush of brain chemicals designed to push us to take action. If we didn’t have this built-in mechanism to motivate us, we would spend our days fat and happy on the couch and never make progress in life.

When stress is accompanied by fear, the brain provides a constant flow of brain chemicals which trigger neurotransmitters that in a modern world can create some confusing signals. If these signals continue for prolonged periods, it can physically rewire your brain in unhealthy ways.

Your body under stress causes your adrenal gland to release anti-inflammatory hormones known as corticosteroids. When released into your bloodstream, these corticosteroids are converted to cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Cortisol increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels and interferes with insulin response, leading to weight gain. Cortisol also decreases the efficiency of your immune system and can lead to a host of illnesses including heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and even cancers.

There are two types of stress we are faced with, acute and chronic.

Acute stress occurs when you are threatened or directly under pressure. The duration is often short and disappears once the pressure is gone. Examples of this kind of stress include work deadlines, late bills, a near accident or a rush to meet a deadline. Acute symptoms include tension headaches, heart palpitations, upset stomach, muscle aches and generalized body pain.

Chronic stress lasts for extended periods.

This can be triggered by a long-term illness, continued financial difficulties, unhappy relationships, or what you perceive as failures in life. Chronic symptoms of include headaches, muscle tension and stiffness, bowel disorders including diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, heart palpitations, weight gain or weight loss, and loss of sex drive.

Unfortunately, many people choose to cope with this through
legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, smoking, or frequent emotional or binge eating. These unhealthy choices only worsen the condition and its effects and result in increasing stress.

A healthier and more effective way to manage this is through the use of diet, exercise and holistic, natural relief programs including yoga and meditation. These natural approaches have proven effective in helping individuals to reduce and better manage this condition and relieve the symptoms.

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