Stress and the Body

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There are many factors in our lives that cause stress, whether it’s a family situation, a fast-paced job, or just the general busyness of life. Stress, in small doses, can be beneficial; a certain level of stress is needed in order to stay motivated and feel responsible. Imagine if you never had a deadline for anything, and all timing was based on a whim. It probably wouldn’t be helpful! Having some pressure is good and healthy for people, but when those pressures become overwhelming, stress has a myriad of consequences if it becomes excessive and chronic.

stress

What happens when you’re stressed?

In a stressful situation, your body begins to produce more hormones like adrenaline and cortisol as part of the “flight or fight” response. This prepares your body to act quickly and efficiently, to help you escape the perceived threat. After the moment of tension passes, you nervous system should return to normal. If it doesn’t, your body remains in that state of stress, and that leads to negative effects in the long run.

How does stress affect your muscles?

When the influx of hormones runs through your system, your muscles tighten to prepare for what your body is seeing that it needs to fight against. When you experience chronic stress, that muscle tension can settle in your neck, shoulders, and lower back. You can also experience this tightness as overall body aches.

What about the rest of your body?

Muscles aches aren’t the only thing you may experience when you’re stressed. Over time, your immune system can be compromised, leading to sickness more often. Your digestive system may see effects as well in the form of stomach aches, vomiting, and heart burn. Stress can affect not just your physical health, but your mental health as well; long periods of stress can result in depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

When you start to feel overwhelmed, remember to take a moment to consciously relax your body. There are periods where we can’t change what’s causing us stress, but we can control our responses to it. Especially as we enter the holiday season, when it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of events!

Read more on Healthline

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