You’ve probably been told before that stress is really bad for you. It’s something that is constantly rammed down our throats and we’re constantly being reminded how stress can cause heart problems, cause weight gain and generally cause all manner of problems.This is not news then. But what we don’t get told so often is precisely why stress is so bad for us or what it actually does to negatively impact on our health. Read on then and we’ll look at the reasons why stress is actually such a problem and what you can do to prevent it – or at least to limit the negative consequences.
Stress and Your Body
The first thing to note is that stress has a profound and direct effect on your body – it increases your heart rate, it increases muscle tension and it causes your blood to actually thicken. All of this is intended to make us more efficient at combat and better able to run away in order to escape danger. This is all controlled by the body releasing specific hormones – and those include dopamine, adrenaline, cortisol and glutamate among others. These are our ‘stress hormones’
As the heart rate increases and the blood vessels dilate, more blood is sent specifically to the muscles and to the brain with the intention of enhancing focus and physical performance.
This is great news again for fighting and for getting away from danger. But what it also means is that blood is being directed away from your other systems – away from your immune system for example and away from your digestion. When you’re being chased by a lion, or falling off a mountain, those things just don’t really matter quite so much!
The Long Term Problem
The problem then comes when this is allowed to continue over a longer period of time. In the wild, chronic stress didn’t really exist: we wouldn’t have to worry about things like debt or having a mean boss!
And when stress doesn’t go away, that means that your immune system and your digestion never get the attention they need. This is why you can end up getting heartburn or becoming ill when you’re constantly stressed.
Meanwhile, your body is consistently releasing adrenaline and your heartrate is consistently beating hard. Eventually this can become a problem as well as you become more and more likely to suffer a heart attack. And remember, your blood pressure has also gone up – making you significantly more likely to experience very high blood pressure.
To help counteract some of these issues, here are my top three tips:
1. Recognize When You’re Stressed:
The first step is to recognize that you are stressed. It’s amazing how many people maintain high levels of stress and that becomes their modus operandi. When they get to that point, they don’t even realize that they are experiencing stress. If you are in this situation you need to reflect back to a time when you were not constantly stressed out.
2. Find a Place That is Quiet:
You need a place where you can go just to get away from it all. Even if that is for only five to ten minutes a day. It can work wonders to reset your internal batteries and can help you continue on. It could be in a remote area of a park or it could be going to a sauna in a gym or a massage.
3. Connect Socially:
We need contact with each other. Face-to-face contact is the best but if that is not available connect with people on social media. Strive to stay off business and political topics when you are stressed out. These will only add to your stress. Consider talking about music, funny stuff, or whatever you and your friends would like to talk about.