HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT YOUR BODY?

3 Posted by - August 16, 2016 - Personal Development

At some point in life, everybody has to deal with stress – it’s how the body responds to various types of situations, both positive and negative. Minor incidents cause a low-level of stress which the body can capably tackle by releasing hormones into your system, but bigger incidents, such as losing your job, tend to cause higher level of stress which can have a significant impact on your health.

High blood pressure is one common symptom of stress, and is caused by the additional hormones in your body. A heightened blood pressure increases your heartbeat and makes blood vessels narrow. Regular exercise is an effective way of combating stress and high blood pressure levels. Getting active four or five times a week for half an hour a time will help you control your stress and lower blood pressure too.

High cortisol levels are a direct cause of stress, and a response by your adrenal glands. These glands release cortisol into your body as a fight-or-flight response to a situation your body deems harmful. Once a fearful episode has concluded, your body’s cortisol levels typically return to normal. However, if they fail to do so, then you could potentially suffer long-term. Depression are two renowned mental health symptoms of cortisol-induced stress.

Regular exercise is an effective way to deal with high cortisol levels, as well as improve your physical health. Aggressive forms of exercise – such as boxing – are ideal as they act as the “fight”, while running and cycling are great ways of giving your body the “flight” feeling. Meditation is a much calmer way of reducing cortisol, but can help too. Putting yourself into a calm state and breathing deeply will trigger the Vagus nerve, which instructs the body to lower both cortisol and your blood pressure.

Chronic stress can also lead to shaking and sweating. A build-up of anxiety may cause your body to become stressed, which then results in shaking. A vicious circle can sometimes follow, where shaking brings on further anxiety, and therefore even higher levels of stress and shaking. The shaking may vary in severity, and can either come in waves or remain persistent.

Such panic attacks are best handled with breathing exercises. Concentrating on relaxing and taking deep long breaths helps to calm a tense body down, and reduce stress levels back to normal. Preventing panic attacks in the first place can be trickier. While good breathing and physical exercises are worthwhile, steadying blood sugar levels with scheduled meals and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine will lessen the effects of the attacks. Looking into cognitive brain therapy (CBT), which aims to change bad thought patterns can also help long term.

Regular high stress levels can also weaken your immune system, because it stimulates it often. While an active immune system helps beat current ailments, it impacts your body’s ability to handle other illnesses later down the line. As stress raises cortisol levels, your immune system is being stimulated more than it should be, resulting in too much inflammation. Eventually, cortisol levels recede due to adrenal fatigue, which suppresses the immune system – putting it more at risk to illnesses, and increasing the response time.

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