Effects of Stress
Losing your mind as you sit waiting for the traffic to clear, wading your way through a huge crowd in a packed local train, losing that coveted promotion thanks to the age-old office politics – our life is engulfed with stress or rather we should say, stress has besieged our lives.
Whatever may be the stressful situation, our body takes time to react to these changes – at the physical, mental, and emotional level. At every stressful moment, a tiny control tower in the brain called the Hypothalamus instructs the body to release stress hormones. These hormones trigger a ‘fight response’ which takes the form of:
- An increased heart rate
- Fast breathing
- Increased concentration
- Mental alertness and
- A body ready for action
Most amongst us perceive stress negatively, there is actually more to this story. Stress can, in fact, be positive too. Imagine, you have been asked to shoulder additional responsibility in your professional space. How will that impact you? You will become more vigilant, more alert, and make every attempt to sense any upcoming danger. This is your body’s response to positively reacting to this change.
While a small amount of regular stress does more good than harm, it’s in fact chronic stress that harms our body and affects our overall well-being. Here are some symptoms that chronic effects of stress show on one’s health:
Therefore, one of the first body systems that get affected when we are stressed out is our Digestive system.
Stress and the Digestive System
Come stress and our appetite goes for a toss. During this time, the liver produces extra blood sugar to give you an energy boost. Many times, the body is not able to handle this surge in sugar levels and puts itself under the stress of developing Type-2 diabetes.
You also become susceptible to developing an acid reflux or heartburn, thanks to an increase in stomach acid.
Stress and the Muscular system
The muscles our body get tensed when the body is undergoing a stressful encounter. With prolonged periods of stress, the muscles don’t get a chance to relax. Tight and tensed muscles cause body aches, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches.
Stress and Sexuality and Reproductive system
Long bouts of stress cause a man’s testosterone levels to drop. Stress can also interfere with sperm production, and cause erectile dysfunction. For women, prolonged periods of stress can affect their menstrual cycle and can lead to irregular, heavy, and painful periods.
Stress and Cardiovascular system
Under stress, the heart pumps blood faster. The stress hormones help divert more oxygen to your muscles so that you get more prepared to deal with the stress. But this causes your blood pressure to rise. Thus, chronic stress causes the heart to overwork for too long and with an increased blood pressure comes an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Other prevalent effects of stress on our behavior include:
- Drug/Alcohol abuse
- Usage of Tobacco
- Overeating or Undereating
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Feeling overwhelmed