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Your Body’s Response to Stress

Whether you consider a stress to positive or negative, your body reacts by releasing stress hormones and in turn, your body responds.  Depending on the severity or type of stress you might be experiencing, your body is likely releasing stress hormones. The release of stress hormones can lead to physiological changes such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, muscles tightening, headache, inhibited digestion, increased glucose in the blood, and negative consequences to the reproductive system. Not all these changes would be considered desirable; however, some can be beneficial when responding to short term or acute stress. For example, if you needed to stop suddenly when driving, your body’s stress response provides quick energy needed to manage and respond to the immediate stressors, and in this case, the need to stop suddenly.

Chronic Stress

When you are experiencing chronic low-level stress or chronic stress, your body is charged with repeatedly responding to the stressors. “Over time, repeated activation of the stress response takes a toll on the body” (Harvard Medical School, 2020). If your body systems are continually responding to stress, there is no clear prompt to when you should return to normal functioning.

Chronic stress can negatively impact your body systems in a variety of ways including:

  • Blood sugar
  • Cognitive health
  • Gut health
  • Heart health
  • Immune system
  • Intestinal health
  • Muscular system
  • Nervous system
  • Reproductive system
  • Respiratory system
Identify When You are Stressed

How do you know when you are stressed? You may not even realize when you are feeling stressed until you feel physical symptoms such as tightness in your neck and shoulders, fatigue, increased heart rate or even a headache. Other possible signs of stress include:

  • Clenched jaw
  • Frustrated easily
  • Irritable
  • Lack of focus or motivation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Skin related issues
  • Sleeping is irregular
  • Weight loss or gain

NOTE: Physical symptoms of stress are not always attributed to the stress response, and you should seek the guidance from your physician.

When you realize your body has activated the stress response and you are showing physical signs of stress, there are steps you can take to help lessen the impacts that stress has on your body such as Stress Reducing Techniques (link below).

How would you rate your stress right now? On a scale from 1 – 10 (1 = absolutely calm and 10 = completely stressed out and showing multiple physical signs of stress), what is your number? Are you ready to find out more on how you can manage your stress and improve your health?

For more information on how you can manage stress:

Stress Reducing Techniques

Self-Care Tips

 

 

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