What is the body’s response to stress?
The dangers of burnout are real especially since stress is everywhere, and it affects us all in some shape or form.
The human body has a highly effective stress response system, that relies on numerous hormones to create changes in various bodily systems. This in turn creates the “fight or flight” response. We are all familiar with the analogies of human life many centuries ago, where a life-threatening event such as encountering a wild animal would require this flight-or-flight stress response system.
Today, although our world is very different, and most of our daily stressors are not life-threatening, our bodies still produce that same, intense ‘fight-or-flight’ response. The demands of our work and personal life are often intense enough to cause us stress, and the body’s response system will kick in.
This system works in the way that it pumps the necessary hormones into the bloodstream, and once the perceived threat has gone, the hormone levels in the bloodstream return to normal. As explained, in this article from Mayo Clinic, the problem that many people face in today’s world is that our stressors are always present. The body constantly perceives that it is under attack, and so this “fight or flight” response is always on. This means that the hormones are not returning to their correct ‘non-stress levels in the body. This constant influx of hormones begins affecting certain body systems, and on a long-term basis, this causes negative effects on those systems.
Many hormones are involved in the stress response system, however, two key hormones worth noting are adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline is produced by the adrenal glands (small glands located above the kidneys) and is responsible for increasing heart rate and blood pressure, as well as boosting energy supply in the body. It is then easy to see that prolonged release of adrenaline into the body would have long-term effects on the heart and vascular system.
Cortisol is produced in the brain and is known as the primary stress hormone. It has been described as an alarm system, and as it communicates with the brain, its release controls mood and sleep patterns. It also increases sugar in the bloodstream, and “curbs functions that would be non-essential or harmful in fight-or-flight situations.”(Healthylifestyle.com blog). This includes the immune system, digestive and reproductive systems. Thus it is easy to see again, how long-term chronic exposure to stress hormones will affect the systems of the body, causing changes that could do harm or trigger disease.
How is long-term stress seen in the body?
When exposed to long-term stress different changes are seen in different people. Some experience them on a more severe level than others, usually relating to the level of stress, the length of time of prolonged stress, and lifestyle factors.
The body is at increased risk for health problems, which can be seen from long term stress such as 1
- Digestive problems
- Muscle tension and pain
- Heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
What can I do to prevent these long-term effects from stress?
Having this information at hand is vital to ensuring that many people are able to put measures in place to prevent the increased risk of diseases caused by long-term stress.
Although removing stress from our lives would be the ultimate way to ensure we achieve this, removing stress is not possible, and most often, the stress we endure is not of our own choosing. Thus, teaching ourselves to cope both mentally and physically with our stress will go a long way in assisting us to remain healthy.
- Coping mentally and emotionally
- Different people react differently to stress. Examining your response (maybe you respond more intensely than a friend does to a similar situation) will assist you in knowing how you cope and what will help you.
- Identifying stressors in your life and identifying specific coping mechanisms.
- Taking a walk or jog after a long workday
- Taking care of your mental health daily, as well as your emotional health by journaling, practicing relaxation techniques, participating in hobbies and activities you enjoy
- Growing healthy relationships
- Considering counseling if you are particularly stressed and feeling overwhelmed
- Planning out your week by preempting certain stressors and allowing time or coping mechanisms to ‘counteract’ them
- Coping physically
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of water
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- Exercising regularly
- When a person is stressed, they often do not have time to exercise and can become more stressed by the fact that they know they should be exercising but can not. Starting with small steps is the key – exercise for 5-10 minutes a few times a week and gradually increase that time. The more our bodies exercise, the more they want to keep exercising!
- Avoid unhealthy behaviors that can cause increased physical stress on the body such as drinking too much, smoking, and eating junk foods.
- Consider hormonal support – supplements to give your body an extra boost.
Although many of these steps seem so simple, it is the combination of them together that goes a long way in relieving overall stress levels and helping you and your body to feel better and less stressed.
Supplements: Adrenal support
As we noted above, the immune system among others is taxed when exposed to long-term stress. Ensuring that you make good, natural multivitamins is vital when trying to address stress in the body.
Since the adrenal glands are one of the key hormones involved in stress response, ensuring our adrenals are healthy is important. Adrenal support may be an option for you if know you are currently under a lot of stress. Our adrenal support product contains both supplements to support the adrenals, as well as key vitamins needed to assist the adrenal glands in functioning optimally. Consider making an appointment with one of our doctors today to get your hormone levels tested if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Contact Natural Bio Health Today
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1: List of health conditions seen in long term stress from Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037