We all have stress in our lives but not everyone realizes they are reacting very badly to stress. Before you educate yourself on how to become aware of the signs of stress in your life, it is important to first understand the impact of stress on the body. Once you recognize how serious stress is to your health you can start identifying where it is in your life and do something to alleviate it.
Stress affects just about everyone’s daily lives. Unfortunately, stress is not a benign thing. It can affect your body in ways that can have a long lasting impact on your health. Here are some ways stress can affect your health…
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When you’re suffering from stress it can be hard to concentrate. Try your best to take in this information. Let’s take a look and the impact of stress on the body and how you may be suffering from this impact.
Impact of Stress on the Body – Your Brain
Stress can cause you to lose your concentration and memory ability.
Whether this is psychological or physiological is not completely clear.
When you are under stress, parts of your brain associated with memory, such as the hippocampus, do not work well and you cannot turn short-term memory into long-term memory.
You can also fail to concentrate on things you hear or things you are reading.
It isn’t clear whether this is a long-term effect or short-term effect; however, things like stress reduction techniques seem to be able to restore your ability to think.
If you feel like you’re suffering from brain fog as a result of stress, you need take this seriously and make changes in your life.
Impact of Stress on the Body – Your Gastrointestinal Tract
Stress triggers the body’s fight or flight response so that epinephrine and norepinephrine are released from your adrenal glands. This has multiple effects on the body.
One thing this phenomenon does is shunt blood away from the gastrointestinal tract and toward the muscles of the body as a way of gearing up to “fight or flee” from a real or imagined opponent.
This can lead to a decreased blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract, which translates into indigestion and poor uptake of nutrients.
Fortunately, this can be short-lived unless you live under situations of chronic stress. Then the gastrointestinal system will be more permanently affected.
Impact of Stress on the Body – Your Cardiovascular System
This puts more stress on your heart and puts you at higher risk of suffering from hypertension-related diseases like heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.
These kinds of things do not happen overnight but if you suffer from chronic stress, the long lasting implications of heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, heart failure, and stroke are real possibilities, especially if you do not eat well or have a strong family history of heart disease.
Impact of Stress on the Body – Your Immune System
Excess stress also causes the release of cortisol from the adrenal cortex.
Cortisol has many effects on the body but one of the main ones is that it suppresses the immune system.
High levels of cortisol mean that you are at greater risk of getting colds and the flu and have a harder time healing from open sores, cuts, or wounds.
Cortisol can suppress several aspects of the immune system so you will find yourself sicker more often when under stress than you would be if you were under less stress.
Things You Can Do to Reduce Stress
Because stress can wreak havoc on your body, you need to do what you can to lessen the stress on your life so you can remain healthy.
Sometimes it is just a matter of reducing the things in your life that are major sources of stress. Sure, that is easily said but often hard to do. However, considering the consequences, you’ll want to try your best to eliminate your biggest sources of stress wherever possible.
It might mean getting out of a stressful relationship, getting your finances in order or changing your job situation so you don’t go to work each day with stressful feelings.
If you can’t change your circumstances, you may want to practice stress-relieving techniques. These include things like meditation, Tai chi, yoga, and Qi gong.
Even if you can remove your stressful circumstances, these activities are good to have in place to help you deal with new stresses that may raise their ugly head at any time.
These activities can be easily learned through attending classes at a local health club or by purchasing a DVD or downloadable course that will teach you ways to reduce the amount of stress you perceive in your life. This is important so you can live a healthier life.
Another great way to reduce stress is to take a vacation, or spend time in nature that naturally calms the mind, body, and spirit. Just be sure your vacation is a relaxing one without too many pressures on you (don’t plan to do too much each day if you’re travelling), otherwise you’ll actually need a break to recover from your vacation stress!
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