The most common misconception about stress is that it only impacts the mind; that it’s all in your head. This couldn’t be further from the truth because stress and your body and its impact is real. If stress is leaving you feeling frazzled, it’s not only negatively affecting your thoughts, but it is also doing a number on your organs and cells. The fact is this: chronic stress is not without consequences.
Why is Stress Bad
Why is stress so bad for your body? Because when you are under stress, your body naturally elevates cortisol levels, which creates inflammation. Cortisol and inflammation wears out the body’s major biological systems at the cellular level.
Stress and your nervous system
You have heard of the “fight or flight” response. This is your body’s way of handling stress. Today, rather than the body reacting to a large animal, it reacts to things like a lack of resources, long-term ailments, or problems at the job. Stress impacts your nervous system by causing anxiety. One of the key structures in your nervous system, the amygdala, can wind up abnormally large or undergo physical changes because of stress.
Stress and your cardiovascular system
When you are stressed out, you are likely experiencing high blood pressure. You may also succumb to overeating or other unhealthy habits. When taken together, these behaviors and symptoms can weaken the heart, likely because of a surge in stress hormones. If something traumatic happens, say a divorce or loss of a partner, there is a reason why they refer to it as having a “broken heart.” There is more to it than just emotion.
Stress and your digestive system
Consider that the brain and digestive tract are in constant communication. It should then be no surprise that there are links between high stress and abnormal cortisone levels. It may be that those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or gastro-intestinal issues are also under a lot of stress.
Stress impacts nearly every system in the body, from the cellular level up to your immune system and more. It can even impact your sleep. Do your body some good by practicing mindfulness techniques that help eliminate stress. For more information on stress and your body, check out our newsletter.