How Stress Affects the Body
Picture this: It’s a work day, just like any other day. As soon as you wake up, swing your legs over the side of the bed, your stress begins. You start by standing up on a LEGO (ouch!!). How it got in your room, you’ve no idea.
Next your tooth brush falls on the floor, butter side down. The next 10 minutes are spent de-grossifying it. It doesn’t get better from there.
You’re out of milk; no breakfast. You’re out of gas in your car; have to take the bus. You get to work and your boss is in one of her moods. Now the rest of your shift is touch and go. Ride the bus home, have a mediocre dinner, go to bed late, and start it all over again.
After all that, your stress levels have reached Mach 5. And you feel horrible. You may think this example is a huge exaggeration, but many of us spend our days dealing with one little stress after another, just like in the example.
Now true or false: stress only affects your emotions? False. Stress can and will affect your entire body. It affects you physically, mentally, emotionally and behaviorally. It can cause all of these issues:
Lowered sex drive
Reduced mental faculties
And many other issues that vary in severity. Forty-five percent of adults suffer injurious health effects from stress, such as the ones mentioned above. Also, 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits pertain to stress-related ailments. Is that persistent tension in your neck still bothering you? Are you still waking up irritable? A lot of stress might be the cause.
Now, whether the stress components in your life are big or small, real or imaginary, your body reacts the same way. From sun up to sun down, many people can attest to experiencing several stressors a day. Each stress reaction produces 1,400 biochemical events in your body, which is a negative chain reaction on the molecular level.
If you suffer from, let’s say, 50 medium-sized stressors every day, your body gets attacked by a battalion of 70,000 biochemical warriors that don’t quit.
Additionally, when you experience acute stress, the adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol, the “stress hormone.” That hormone regulates the changes to the body brought on by stress:
Blood sugar levels
Fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism to maintain blood glucose
Heart and blood vessel tone and contraction
Central nervous system activation
So when those biochemical warriors go into battle, your heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, pupils dilate, liver releases glucose and blood flows to your muscles increase.
Lastly, stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
If stress can be reduced, either through meditation or another relaxation technique, you will be happier, healthier and hopefully stress-free. The first step to curing stress is to recognize that you have stress.