Are you stressed?
By Ady Anderson
24 February 2020
We all experience stress and anxiety at times, and for the most part stress is a normal (if not advantageous) physiological response, but what you might not know is what it is doing to your body when you are stressed for an extended period of time.
The stress response causes an influx of the hormone cortisol and initiates the fight or flight response. Meaning, our bodies go into a state of alertness, causing our heart rate to increase, pumping greater volumes of blood around the body. When we are in this heightened state, the nervous system prioritises our ‘survival’ and redirects blood away from areas deemed unnecessary. For example, blood is redirected form the gastrointestinal tract (gut), to areas such as your leg muscles, to help you run away for the ‘threat’ endangering your survival. When our body is in a heightened state for an extended period of time, other areas of our body can become affected as well, such as:
Gut issues, i.e. IBS
Reduced immune system
Increased muscle tension, leading to headaches and migraines
Jaw pain and dental issues
Increased blood pressure
Predisposed to developing mental health issues (ie. anxiety or depression)
What can you do to help with stress?
Recognising when you are stressed is the first step. Learning to manage the effects of stress and, if possible, figuring out what induced the state of stress can also help to provide short term relief and long term management skills.
Some ways of helping manage stress include:
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
Getting involved in activities and hobbies you enjoy
Having a regular sleep routine
Participating in a relaxing activity such as yoga, meditation or mindfulness
Seeking professional help, as needed
Stress and anxiety are a part of the human experience and learning how to recognise and manage these emotions, and their effects on the body, is an invaluable skill.