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Effects and symptoms of stress on the body

Updated on December 6, 2019

Stress is the reaction of the body to dangerous situations

Stress not only makes us feel more irritated, exhausted or nervous, it also has consequences in the body that can affect our overall health.

Passing an episode of stress is quite common in today's society, when we face a challenge, a problem or we feel overwhelmed, this state activates us and drives us to react. In a timely manner it may be useful, but in the long term we know that it hurts us, we feel irritated, tense, nervous, decayed. And these are only mental symptoms but how does it affect our body?

Stress in the body. When we perceive a threat or a danger, real or not, our body prepares for two quick and effective solutions: fight or flight. In them the autonomic nervous system is involved, responsible for the organic functions of our body that occur involuntarily, such as heartbeat or breathing. This is divided into two: sympathetic nervous system, which provides us with action, and parasympathetic, which regulates the activities of our body at rest.

Faced with the threatening stimulus, the sympathetic system produces a hormonal response, generating a greater amount of adrenaline and cortisol. The first increases the heart rate, dilates the pupils and bronchial tubes, and puts us to sweat. The second hormone increases the level of blood sugar and suppresses the activity of the immune system.

This occurs temporarily, since the parasympathetic nervous system is in turn responsible for putting it “all in order”, but it is easy to imagine that when this whole process is repeated too often or continuously, it can have harmful consequences for our Health.

Physical symptoms of stress. Distinguishing between an acceptable and excessive dose of stress is not always easy. We are used to running from here to there, to do several things at once and to face challenges often, so it is important to pay attention not only to our mood, but also to some physical symptoms, such as the following, that They warn us that daily tensions are affecting us:

  • Frequent headaches.
  • Constipation
  • Excessive tiredness, decay.
  • Rigid jaw, tense muscles.
  • Insomnia or drowsiness
  • Unusual weight variations

Our brain also sends us other alarm signals such as demotivation, lack of sexual desire, irritability, anxiety or forgetfulness and memory delays.

Consequences of chronic stress .Among the risks of chronic stress are lowering of defenses, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, acne, eczema, depression, anxiety or problems arising from constant tension such as muscle contractures or bruxism that occurs when the jaw is tightened. often and unconsciously when we sleep.

Being stressed continuously can also make us fat, since it affects the regulation of our impulses and emotions, making us opt for very appetizing foods but with little nutritional value. This lack of control often leads to other habits and harmful behaviors, such as smoking or drinking alcohol in excess to try to relax, with their corresponding negative consequences.

Some studies state that work stress, one of the most frequent, increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease by 68% and that of suffering a myocardial infarction by 23%. In the long term, stress can lead to really serious health problems, and these in turn contribute to our feeling more stressed, so prevention and treatment are very important, through psychological therapy and with supports such as Meditation, physical activity and good nutrition.

Relying on our ability to deal with situations that affect us is a good starting point to start managing stress. The next thing is to ask what we can do to reduce it: consult a specialist, practice mindfulness, exercise moderately, find another job, do some pleasant activity at the end of the day such as walking or reading . The alternatives are many and worth putting them into practice when it is necessary. A life with less stress is a healthier life, in every way.


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