The Scary Truth About What Happens To Your Body When You're Stressed

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what happens to your body when you're stressed
Self

Take care of yourself, girl!

I used to believe I had no stress in my life. I had very tight muscles in my shoulders and hardly ever felt relaxed, but I wasn't stressed. It took me a while to realize that I was tense because I was stressed out.

I had job stress (like everybody else), a commute, financial stresses, health stresses, so that when I became honest with myself, I realized that I was on stress-overload and I needed to make some changes, and fast.

That's the thing about stress — it can sneak up on you and do all kinds of damage without you catching on. But what happens to your body when you're stressed? Many of us fail to realize the damage we are doing to ourselves.

Recently, Time shared an infographic about stress. The first part is about how America handles stress:

In another article on Medical Daily, experts discussed how the human body is hard-wired to react to stress, in order to protect itself from threats and aggressors. When the body thinks there's a threat, such as a barking dog on your morning walk to the subway, the hypothalamus (a small but important part of the brain) sets off an alarm system.

The hormones adrenaline (aka, acute stress response) and cortisol are then released into the blood stream. Adrenaline increases your heart rate and begins to use up energy supplies in the body, while cortisol increases sugar levels in the bloodstream at the same time, weakening the immune system.

What if this hormone battle was happening all the time in your body? Of course, there'd be harmful effects.

The second part of the Time infographic explains what happens to your body when you're stressed.

Now is the time for self-care and managing the damaging effects of stress. Make a healthy diet and exercise a priority, and get enough sleep. Try adding in a walk daily and practice breathing exercises to lower blood pressure and stimulate the nervous system, which helps calm the body and mind.

The best thing you can do is to take breaks. Do whatever you can to calm down and relax. De-stressing is the key to feeling better and living longer.

Having trouble relaxing? Check out the video below for tips on how to de-stress:

 

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and teacher who loves writing and performing personal narratives. She's had pieces in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Woman's Day, Purple Clover, Bustle, and is a regular contributor to Ravishly and YourTango. Check out her website or her Facebook page.