The Effects of Stress and your Body

Stress and your body Frustrated Asian young business man sitting outdoor office after

The most common misconception about stress is that it only impacts the mind; and that it’s all in your head. This couldn’t be further from the truth because stress and your body and its impact are real. If stress is leaving you feeling frazzled, it’s not only negatively affecting your thoughts, but it is also doing a number on your organs and cells. The fact is this: chronic stress is not without consequences.

Why is Stress Bad

Why is stress so bad for your body? Because when you are under stress, your body naturally elevates cortisol levels, which creates inflammation. Cortisol and inflammation wear out the body’s major biological systems at the cellular level. Chronic inflammation is one of the underlying factors in many of today’s chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, auto-immune diseases, and kidney and liver disease. 

Stress and your nervous system

You have heard of the “fight or flight” response. This is your body’s way of handling stress. Today, rather than the body reacting to a large animal, it reacts to things like a lack of resources, long-term ailments, or problems at the job. Stress impacts your nervous system by causing anxiety. One of the key structures in your nervous system, the amygdala, the part of the brain that activates the fight or flight response, can wind up abnormally large or undergo physical changes because of chronic stress. 

Stress and your cardiovascular system

When you are stressed out, you are likely experiencing high blood pressure. You may also succumb to overeating or other unhealthy habits. When taken together, these behaviors and symptoms can weaken the heart, likely because of a surge in stress hormones. If something traumatic happens, say a divorce or loss of a partner, there is a reason why they refer to it as having a “broken heart.” There is more to it than just emotion.

Stress and your digestive system

Consider that the brain and digestive tract are in constant communication. It should then be no surprise that there are links between high stress and abnormal cortisone levels. It may be that those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or gastrointestinal issues are also under a lot of stress.

Stress impacts nearly every system in the body, from the cellular level up to your immune system and more. It can even impact your sleep. 

Do your body some good by practicing mindfulness techniques that help eliminate stress. 

Mindfulness Techniques to Help Manage Stress

Below are some tips for mindfulness techniques you can use.

  1.  Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercises. Inhale for 4, hold for 7 and exhale for 8. This is very calming.
  2. Go outside and get some fresh air. Nature has a way of relaxing your body and mind. 
  3. Take a break from your electronics.
  4. Listen to some relaxing and soothing music.
  5. Tune into a funny TV. show and get some laughs. Laughter is great medicine.
  6. It’s okay to say no. Make sure other people are being respectful of your time and if you are feeling overwhelmed, permit yourself to say no to a stressful obligation.
  7. Try your hat at a coloring book. Experts say coloring in a coloring book is a huge stress reducer!
  8. Remember, you are not alone. It’s ok to ask for help.
  9. Check out the original Chi Machine. Its rhythmic movement helps calm the mind.

Supplements for Support – Stress and your Body

  • B complex vitamins help improve your mood and reduce your body’s response to stress. They also support energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. My favorite B-Complex for Stress combines the power of b vitamins, vitamin c, and herbs to help your nervous system relax. 
  • Magnesium may help the body’s stress response as well as cortisol levels.
  • Omega 3 helps with inflammation and improves mood and brain health.
  • Vitamin D is said to help with fatigue and feelings of depression or anxiety.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid helps the body combat oxidative stress
  • Curcumin helps with serotonin in the body assisting the body with sleep and feelings of anxiety.

For more information on stress and your body, check out our newsletter