Stress is everywhere. It affects all of us and it affects us differently, but do you really understand the symptoms of stress and how it can affect your body?
You may notice you get stressed when you’re paying bills, when you’re disciplining your kids or maybe it’s when you’re already running late for a meeting and then you get stuck in traffic.
A little bit of stress is normal and actually can be beneficial. But too much stress can have serious mental and physical effects on your body.
Today we are going to break down exactly what stress can do to you.
First, what exactly is stress? Stress is the body’s natural reaction to a perceived harmful situation. The reason that I say perceived is because based on people’s past experiences and beliefs, different people find different situations stressful. For ex., someone who had a scary experience on their first flight may find that anytime they need to book a flight, they immediately become stressed and anxious. Someone else may have only had great experiences flying and they love it and get excited about the opportunity to get on a plane.
Webmd defines stress as “When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as "fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. During stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. You’ve gotten ready to act. It is how you protect yourself.”
Again, not all stress is bad. Small amounts of stress can help you accomplish tasks quickly or prevent you from harm. For ex: If you see a bear, your fight or flight kicks in and you would probably run faster than you ever have before or to make it a little more relatable to most of us, if a car in front of you slams on brakes, you react a lot quicker than you normally would to prevent hitting the car. That’s your body’s natural response that makes your reaction time quicker.
The problem is when we become chronically stressed. When the stress response keeps happening multiple times a day or every day, it can have serious effects on your body and the first thing you will notice is the symptoms of the stress.
What are the symptoms of chronic stress?
Some of the emotional symptoms of stress include: Feeling overwhelmed, yes, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes, but if you’re constantly feeling like you are losing control, it could be chronic stress. Easily becoming frustrated, agitated or moody is another common sign. Feeling lonely, depressed, anxious or avoiding others may be related to stress.
You may also notice that you’re constantly worrying, you have difficulty focusing, you become forgetful and disorganized.
Some people have loss of appetite or eat too much and they may begin to procrastinate or avoid responsibilities.
Some of the physical symptoms of stress include: low energy, headaches, upset stomach, frequent cold and infections, nervousness and shaking, insomnia, and clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth.
If stress is left untreated it can lead to serious health issues like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and heart attacks.
It can also cause hair loss, acne and ulcerative colitis.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms you should definitely talk with your healthcare provider, but in my next blog I'll be talking about things you can do to alleviate symptoms and talking about the gut-brain connection to stress.
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