We all know how stress makes us feel- that is easy to explain, but do you know the things stress can do your body?
How much do you know about what stress can do to your body?
Do you realize what actually happens to the organs and systems in your body as a result of chronic stress?
Many women don’t realize what stress does to their bodies.
As a matter of fact, physical changes do not need to occur- only chemical processes.
In any event, it is good to get a “visualization” of what is going on inside your body when you are under constant, chronic stress.
Knowledge is power.
Knowing what stress does to the body will help you get a deeper understanding of the dangerous effects of chronic as well as the importance of finding healthy ways to combat it.
Things Stress Can Do Your Body: The Heart and Blood Vessels
The heart is a muscle in the purest sense of word.
A healthy heart has very little fat, and is extremely efficient, contracting like clockwork for the duration of your entire life.
However, stress hormones change all this.
For one, stress hormones make the heart beat much faster, partially in response to the stimulating action of these hormones.
Another reason is because blood vessels are constricted.
To understand this, think of a water pump.
You can use a thin ½ inch pipe to supply water, or a large 1-inch sized type.
When using the ½ inch size, the pump needs to work harder to push the same volume of water. And it would take forever.
Similarly, when your blood vessels are constricted by chronic stress, your heart has to work much harder.
You heart has to maintain a quota to ensure your cells don’t die from oxygen starvation.
Things Stress Can Do Your Body: Digestive System
Do you feel “butterflies” in your stomach when you are under stress or anxiety? Or maybe you find it difficult to hold your food- or bowels during stressful periods?
This is directly the result of stress hormones.
In short, the stomach produces more acid under stress, which either helps speed digestion (and the desires to empty your bowels) or acid reflux and heartburn.
This is why stomach ulcers are more frequent in women who are under high stress on a longer term basis.
Also, in the intestines, since food seems to move faster than usual, nutrient deficiencies can occur, along with diarrhea.
Things Stress Can Do Your Body: The Respiratory System
Respiration is tied intimately to our circulatory system.
In part that explains why during exercise your heart pumps faster and you breath faster.
This is because blood needs oxygen.
In most people this is fine, and not a problem, but in asthmatics or those with pulmonary disease it can kill you.
Stress can precipitate asthma attacks, or constriction of the airways making it difficult to breathe.
Hyperventilation is also common, and a characteristic of a panic attack (or insensitivity to adrenalin).
Things Stress Can Do Your Body: The Reproductive System
Nothing wrecks a sex life like stress, as millions can testify to.
This isn’t just psychological, however, but also physical.
In women, chronic stress triggers menstrual cycle disturbances occur. This can cause painful periods or wildly fluctuating hormone levels throughout the month.
In men, chronic stress interferes with a man’s ability to achieve and maintain erections.
Things Stress Can Do Your Body: Endocrine Glands
Endocrine glands are those body parts (some of them organs) that produce hormones. In short, those hormones are deposited into the body’s blood stream.
These include the adrenal glands, the liver and pancreas for example.
The adrenal glands are forced to produce more cortisol and adrenalin- the two key stress hormones.
In response to this, the liver may begin releasing stored glycogen in the form of glucose, to tend to your seemingly agitated state.
Similarly, the pancreas may also begin producing more insulin.
If the stressful situation resolves, everything goes back to normal. However, if the stressful event continues day in and day out, your body continues to break down!
Furthermore, stress is very bad for diabetics, pre-diabetics or anyone who has sensitivity issues to glucose.
For that group, not all that circulating sugar goes back into storage, and instead is free to pick trouble.
Now that you know what stress can do to your body, are you ready to take action to reduce the stress in your life?
You can’t get rid of stress by just reading about it! Effective stress management requires ACTION!
Here are two easy action steps you can take right now to reduce stress:
- Grab our FREE guide : 50 simple stress management activities
- Join our Facebook support group for women with chronic stress.