As I mentioned in previous articles to understand what stress does to us, we have to look back thousands of years ago at a time when humans were threatened by hungry animals such as saber-toothed tigers.
We had to be on high alert to survive as we were the prey and they were the predators. The world was an unsafe place to live and we were in survival mode.
Cavemen had to be able to react instantly, either by fighting the wild animal or running away. We evolved the ability to respond to a stressful situation instantly, by preparing the body for “fight or flight.”
Under instant stress, we will get a burst of strength and endurance, as our body pumps out stress hormones. These hormones are there to help us either run or fight.
So What Happens To Our Body When We Get Stressed?
Our body’s fight-or-flight response switches on — it’s the activation of our body’s sympathetic nervous system in reaction to an alarm or to a stress.
• Our digestion stops (so it doesn’t use up energy that’s needed elsewhere)
• Our muscle tension increases
• We breathe faster, to bring more oxygen to your muscles
• Our heart speeds up
• Blood flow to our brain and muscles increases up to 400 percent
These physical changes occur rapidly and automatically. Now if we needed to run or fight these hormones will switch on for us and help us but in day to day life we do not need to do this.
When we are stressed we still have the fight/flight hormones still in our bodies and if these hormones are switched on for long periods it can damage our bodies.
How Can Stress Hurt Us?
• It can weaken the body’s immune system
• It can disrupt our hormonal system
• It can affect our sleep patterns
• It can lead to unwanted weight gain
• It can cause chronic fatigue, adrenal exhaustion, back pain digestive upsets, headaches
• It can affect the blood cells that help you fight off infection, so we are more likely to get colds and other diseases
• Constant stress can increase blood pressure and can increase the risk for stroke
• It can increase the danger of heart attacks
• It can make an asthma attack worse
• It triggers behaviours like smoking, drinking, drug abuse, and overeating
• It can lead to lack of sex drive
• It affects our moods and can make us angry or anxious when talking to others
So knowing all of this it is wise to reduce the stressors in our lives and live a calmer life, one where we are more aware of what our body is telling us.
I used to suffer from stress and panic attacks and now I am more aware, I can tell what is happening in my body and make conscious decisions to change the way I deal with the stressors in my life.
Of course I am not going to stop the hormones when I have instant stress in my life but I am much more aware not to put myself into the old circumstances that would have caused me stress in the first place. I ask you…..What can you do to reduce the stress in your life?
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You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how I can help you. Sharon is the founder of Global Healing Exchange. You can work with her on her Emotional Freedom Program here.