What Stress Does to Your Body
Anyone dealing with stress will know that it can have some seriously scary physical and emotional effects. What you may be less familiar with is why this happens.
When your body senses a “threat,” it releases stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. This also sets in motion a whole heap of physical changes. Originally, this was intended to give our ancestors the best chance of survival against threats. These days, it’s less helpful but most “fight or flight” symptoms stem from the same causes.
Symptoms of stress
- Racing heart – Ever feel like your heart is pounding out of your chest? Stress hormones encourage your heart to beat a little bit faster so that blood can get to organs and limbs more quickly. Over time, chronic stress can raise your blood pressure.
- Rapid breathing– As well as increasing your heart rate, your body also increases respiration to give an energy and oxygen boost. Some of this goes to your brain so you can be more alert.
- Dilated pupils – Your pupils can get more dilated to allow more light to get to your eyes. “Tunnel vision” is also pretty common. For our ancestors, this would have meant a better chance of surviving life or death threats.
- Brain fog and focus issues– For our ancestors, the brain needed to focus solely on the “threat” in question and this can result in brain fog, poor memory and poor cognition in general.
- Digestion and immunity– These slow down so that energy can be focused on essential processes for survival. Chronic stress can cause digestive problems.
Again, these stress responses are meant to be temporary. Unfortunately, these responses have become chronic in modern life due to overwork, overstimulation, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and generally a more toxic environment over all.
Because stress literally gets “under the skin” it changes your physiology, often leading to poor health outcomes in the long term. Therefore, it’s really important to do what you can to LOWER your stress levels. Your body will thank you.
What You Can Do
The first step in stress management is eating a nutrient-dense diet. Eating well is your best shield for the toll that stress takes on the body. If you need more help, check out my favorite supplements to help manage stress here.
Finally, check out one of my all-time favorite books, “The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook,” which includes tips for stress management, relaxation techniques, and step-by-step exercises to help you combat stress.