Stress is something that we have become used to living with in our daily lives.
Stress occurs when we are no longer able to cope with a pressure that is placed upon us: this can be an emotional or mental pressure. This has a detrimental effect on your body.
Work, relationships and money are the most commonly-cited stressors.
In this series, I will look at some of the effects of stress on our body and provide some simple solutions to managing these symptoms.
But first, let’s look at the mechanism of action behind stress.
What happens when you are stressed?
When stressed, your brain sets off a series of nerve signals which prompts the release of hormones that allow you to cope with a heightened sense of threat.
This is called the ‘flight or fight’ response. Imagine you are afraid of the dark and you are shut in a dark room – what you will encounter during this perceived threat is an increase in heart rate, your palms will sweat, your mouth will dry up, amongst other things.
This is because of hormones, primarily cortisol, that work to divert all of your bodies energy to “survival” by enhancing the brains functional ability.
This is a good, protective mechanism of the body that is usually self-limiting once the perceived threat has ceased.
The problem with stress
Now here is the problem; long-term chronic stress is harmful.
When you are constantly stressed, that feeling of being under attack causes the release of these hormones in a sustained, low grade fashion over a prolonged period of time.
This disrupts the bodies balance leading to problems of anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, enhanced feeling of pain, especially back pain, stomach problems, tooth grinding, problems with concentration and weight gain. In some cases professional counselling is necessary.
My hope is that by sharing my knowledge of stress mechanisms, you may be empowered to manage the stress in your life and so improve your health and productivity.