The Effects of Stress on the Body
Stress and Your Health
Whether you’ve been stuck in rush-hour traffic or worried about an upcoming deadline we’ve all experienced stress at one point or another. While experiencing stress is normal, having prolonged exposure to stress hormones can have an adverse effect on your health.
How Stress Affects the Mind and Body
When experiencing prolonged exposure to stress, it may hinder your body’s capability of returning to a normal state. When the body’s stress response system is activated for prolonged periods of time, it releases cortisol and other stress hormones, which can have adverse effects on the mind and body.
Mental Health and Stress
When you continue to experience chronic stress, it can cause disturbances in your mental wellbeing, causing you to develop mental health issues. Consequently, if you are already living with a mental health issue, stress can exacerbate symptoms.
Some mental health issues prolonged stress can put you at risk for include but are not limited to:
- Memory and concentration issues
Physical Health and Stress
While the hormones that increase your heart rate and trigger your “fight or flight” response are meant to protect you during emergency situations, experiencing stress for long periods of time can put your physical health in jeopardy.
When experiencing chronic stress, it can also disrupt your body’s normal physical functions, putting you at risk for the following:
- Trouble sleeping
- Digestive issues
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and stroke
- Weight gain
Coping With Stress
When you find yourself experiencing excessive amounts of stress, knowing how to manage it may reduce your risk of negative mental and physical health effects. Here are some tips to help keep your stress levels under control:
- Know your triggers: Identifying and recognizing what is causing you stress is the first step in developing a healthy coping mechanism.
- Phone-a-Friend: When you’re feeling overwhelmed emotionally, talking with someone you trust about your situation can help ease some of that tension.
- Yoga: Studies have shown that practicing yoga can help decrease the secretion of cortisol into the body, which is the most prominent stress hormone.
- Meditation: Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can also reduce the production of cortisol. Research also suggests that meditation can improve physical stress-related conditions such as anxiety and depression.