We all get stressed. In stressful situations our body protects us by releasing stress hormones to help us cope with the pressure. This is called a stress response. The stress response is a positive thing because it helps us deal with whatever it is we need to deal with, keep us motivated and focused to solve the problem or give us extra strength to run away from danger.
The problem with stress starts if we activate this stress response too often or stay in it for too long. In that case stress is not a good news any more because it affects our whole body and puts pressure on both physical and mental health.
Our respiratory system feels the stress very quickly. You may notice that your breathing becomes fast and shallow when under stress. You take less oxygen into your body. If you suffer from asthma or anxiety this may be a big problem for you.
Immune system doesn't work efficiently under the effect of stress on the body and it becomes much harder to fight away illnesses.
Digestion process is not seen as a priority in stressful situations and that's why we may experience problems with our digestive system if the stress response is activated too often. Symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhoea or constipation are common.
Cardiovascular system is also affected. Increased heart rate and blood pressure leads to higher risks of stroke, hypertension and heart attack.
We can't forget musculoskeletal system. As a massage therapist I can see the effect of stress on people's bodies every day. Muscles tense up to protect the body from injury. Repeated muscle tension leads to chronic pain, bad posture and can affect the skeletal system and joints. Tension headaches and migraines are very common symptoms of tense muscles of the neck and shoulders.
It's obvious that our mood and our ability to cope with everyday responsibilities will be affected as well. We may struggle to sleep at night and our concentration and focus will be lacking during a day. As a compensation we may end up having too much sugary treats and caffeine drinks to keep us going. We may even increase our alcohol intake or look for other drugs to help us cope as well.
What is the way out?
The number one step is to cultivate self-awareness and mindfulness in your life.
Yoga and regular massage will help.
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