Stress is the body’s natural defense against predators and danger, know as the “fight-or-flight” mechanism. It floods the body with cortisol and adrenaline to prepare the body’s system to confront or avoid danger. This mechanism was designed for our ancestors that were faced with the predatory threat of being eaten by a lion. Once that threat was resolved normal body function would return to normal. The problem we face today is the unbearable level of stress we put upon ourselves keeping our bodies in that constant state of stimulation.
When our stress response doesn’t stop firing, and levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival and it is having significant effects our health. Symptoms of chronic stress include:
- Muscle tension or pain
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
Long Term Effects of Chronic Stress
Stress stimulates the immune system, which can be a plus for immediate situations. This stimulation helps to avoid infections and heal wounds. But over time, chronic stress weakens the immune system and reduce our body’s response to heal wounds and regenerate cells.
Consuming almost all of the body’s energy, stress does not leave enough for other essential systems. Making us vulnerable to chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The overdose of non-stop psychological, emotional and social stress puts us at a far greater risk than being a lion’s lunch. We worry about our jobs, home, bills, the happiness and health of our loved ones, emails, text messages, traffic and not having enough time. Twelve hour work days are the new norm and with twenty-four hour access to email, technology is crossing the line between our private and professional lives.
As a consequence, we make poor food choices that cause us to crave sugar and carbohydrate rich food. The reason for these cravings is the stress hormone, cortisol which stimulates our appetite because of the body’s need for extra energy. We need insulin to get glucose (sugar) out of our blood and into our cells. Stress hormones make it difficult for our pancreas to secrete insulin. Overconsumption of sugar makes our pancreas hyperactive. Over time this hyperactivity damages the cells in the pancreas to the point where it won’t be able to efficiently produce insulin. Excessive sugar consumption eventually exhausts the insulin producing pancreas, which is why obesity and type 2 diabetes have become chronic diseases.
Constant elevated levels of adrenaline force our heart to beat faster and elevates our blood pressure which eventually results in hypertension. While the overdose of cortisol disrupts the function of our artery walls, one of the contributing factors of cholesterol plaque to build up in the arteries which combined heighten the risk of heart attack and stroke.
How often do we feel like we can never catch our breath, wake up feeling tired, anxious and emotionally drained? It is likely because we are chronically stressed.
Common Effects Of Stress On Our Behavior
Overeating or under-eating
Drug or alcohol abuse
Exercising less often
5 Ways To Immediately Reduce Stress
Provides a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both our emotional well-being and our overall health, which can help carry us more calmly through our day and may help us manage symptoms of certain medical conditions. Clearing away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to our stress.
- Gain a new perspective on stressful situations
- Builds stress management skills
- Increases self-awareness
- Focus on the present
- Reduce negative emotions
- Increase imagination and creativity
- Increase patience and tolerance
A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance our mood and overall sense of well-being.
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Massage promotes the relaxation response–heart rate decelerates, breathing rate slows and muscles relax.
- Lowers blood pressure and reduces heart rate
- Reduces Muscular Tension
- Relaxes muscles and mind
Regular Physical Activity
- Lowers blood pressure
- Boost levels of good cholesterol
- Improves blood circulation
- Improves ability to control weight
- Helps better with night sleep
- Boosts energy
- Improves self-image
Socializing With Family And Friends
- Helps in building positive and constructive relationships
- Improving overall growth and development of an individual
- Enhances mental functioning, as the mind is kept occupied with real thoughts
- Stress and anxiety levels can be reduced to a great extent
- Solutions to problems may be found in dialogue
- Giving and getting emotional, physical and spiritual support
Countless studies have found that social connection is a key component of happiness and a meaningful life, and hobbies have the potential to create precious new ties. Helping to create your identity. People want to be around those with passions, with a sense of curiosity, with stories to tell.
- Help structure your time
- Promote energy flow
- Create new social connections
- Hobbies make us interesting