Anyone who lives a stressful lifestyle already has firsthand knowledge of how debilitating stress can be to the mind, but she or he may not have the full picture of just what stress does to the body. Rather than deal with things when the dust settles, it’s better to tackle stress long before it wraps itself tight around the body and mind. Knowing how stress impacts the body offers a gauge to help determine just how mentally overexerted a person may be at any given time.
When stressed, a person can experience shortness of breath and rapid breathing. What’s happening is that the airway between the lungs and nose becomes constricted, making it difficult to breathe. For those with respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, stress can trigger breathing difficulties. It is not unusual for a stressed person to experience a panic or asthma attack.
While momentary, acute stress often results in heart muscle contractions and an increased heart rate, both of which usually fade after the stress or passes, ongoing stress takes a more substantial toll on the body. Chronic stress often paves the way to an increased risk of stroke, hypertension, and heart attack. Those who have trouble managing their chronic stress may want to ask their doctor about cardiovascular support supplements that can help them fight off the effects of stress on their heart and the rest of their cardiovascular system.
Much how acute stress affects the cardiovascular system momentarily, the same applies to the impact stress has on the musculoskeletal system. The same is true of the ongoing impact of chronic stress on the musculoskeletal system. Specifically, muscles remain tense during periods of constant stress, which can lead to several disorders. Constant tension in the shoulders, head, and neck may trigger stress headaches and migraines. One way to relieve muscle tension brought on by stress is to engage in relaxation therapies and activities, such as meditation, aromatherapy, massages, and exercise.
Because the body’s gastrointestinal system is so closely linked to the brain, stress can have several negative effects on the guts and the rest of the body, including bloating and mood swings. Stress can lead to overeating, which may overexert the esophagus and trigger acid reflux or heartburn. In the stomach, stress may lead to nausea or even vomiting under severe conditions. Food may move either faster or slower through the bowels during periods of immense stress, which can cause either constipation or diarrhea. Stress can even cause muscle spasms in the bowels.
With the impact of stress on the nervous system, the most important fact to take away is that the brain impacts all other systems in the body. That means that when the nervous system experiences stress constantly, it can cause wear and tear on various bodily systems. Going more in-depth, when stressed, the brain goes into flight-or-fight mode, which means that the body becomes focused on fighting off what it perceives to be a threat.
Adrenaline and cortisol hormones flood the body, increasing the heart and respiration rate. When the threat passes, the brain lets the body know that everything is OK and returns all bodily systems to normal. With persistent stress, the body remains in a constant flight-or-fight response, which drains the body.
In today’s fast-paced world where people are busier and more stressed than ever, it’s essential to understand how mismanaged stress affects the body. The body has a way of sending messages that it’s stressed, as long as the person has the knowledge necessary to translate what’s going on.