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The Stress Response and Why it Can Hurt Our Health

Stress

Here’s a terrifying thought: every time we are stressed out, our bodies fire a mechanism that hinders many major biological functions. Things like digestion, rational thought and immune function shut down. Oh, and it’s essentially uncontrollable. Well, this is exactly what happens during the stress response

During an intense emotional experience, parts of the brain pump out stress hormones. These chemicals cause the physical sensations that initiate the fight-or-flight response. Enter the tense feelings we’ve all experienced – tight chest, sweaty palms, lump in our throat, heart beating out of our chest. This is what’s happening from a scientific perspective: 

Adrenaline and cortisol are two of these hormones that cause the release of glucose from our tissues into the bloodstream. The glucose provides immediate energy for our muscles, so that we can get moving. For the same reason, the heart rate and respiratory rate increase. Also, the contractions of the heart strengthen, our blood pressure goes up, and our muscles tense.

Self-Inflicted Chronic Stress 

The stress response is a brilliant mechanism for keeping us alive and safe. But it is a major harm to our health when overused. The sad part is, we often activate the stress response ourselves, with our own thoughts, over and over and over again. 

When we revisit an unhappy memory, or worry about a presentation at work, our minds alone will trip the fight-or-flight mechanism. And those stress hormones start pumping. 

If cortisol is constantly present in high amounts in the bloodstream, it can lead to physical and emotional problems. These include headaches, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and memory impairment. Also, the emotional center in the brain sends signals to the logical parts of the brain to shut down. So rational thought becomes severely impaired during stressful situations. 

How many of us are chronically stressed? How many of us are chronically stressing ourselves out? When this happens, our bodies are constantly preparing to fight or flee. Or sometimes freeze up. When we don’t physically expend this energy, the stress itself can wear the body down. It leaves it in a vulnerable state for sickness and disease. 

Luckily, we can practice various techniques to help calm the body and better manage our emotional states. The methods for managing the stress response are abundant throughout this platform and on our Logicast (podcast). So take a look around and take action today to improve your health by reducing your stress!

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