Stress Makes You Sick

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workstressWe know that too much stress is bad for us. Stress = heart attack.  The Heart Foundation has conducted a number of excellent campaigns which emphasis this.  But chronic stress does much more than stop our heart (if that wasn’t enough right?)

Other effects of chronic stress are:

Chronic muscle tension and other musculoskeletal conditions.  

When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. Usually this is brief however, with chronic stress the muscles in the body are in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders. For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head.

Its getting harder and harder to Breathe (thanks for the warning Maroon 5)

Stress can make you breathe harder. That’s not a problem for most people, but for those with asthma or a lung disease such as emphysema, getting the oxygen you need to breathe easier can be difficult.

And some studies show that an acute stress, such as the death of a loved one — can actually trigger asthma attacks, in which the airway between the nose and the lungs constricts.

Stress can also cause hyperventilation which can lead to panic attacks….Boo

Your hormones get all crazy!!!!@#$%#@%

When the body is stressed, the hypothalamus signals the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland and the process is started to produce epinephrine and cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormones.”

This process gives your body the energy to run from danger by releasing glucose.  Unfortunately, these days there is no danger so your body doesn’t need to use all the energy, so the body reabsorbs the glucose.  This is fine for most people but for those who are vulnerable to the illness, the extra blood sugar can mean diabetes.

Heartburn, stomach ulcers and digestion problems

Stress causes the body to change its eating habits and our body likes its habits.  Change can lead heartburn and reflux.  During times of stress the brain becomes more alert to sensations in the stomach (hence the butterflies).  You may vomit if the stress is severe enough. And, if the stress becomes chronic, you may develop ulcers or severe stomach pain even without ulcers.

Stress can affect digestion, and what nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how fast food moves through your body. You may find that you have either diarrhea or constipation.

Your Nerves get Shot

Chronic stress, experiencing stressors over a prolonged period of time, can result in a long-term drain on the body. As the SNS continues to trigger physical reactions, it causes a wear-and-tear on the body. It’s not so much what chronic stress does to the nervous system, but what continuous activation of the nervous system does to other bodily systems that become problematic.

Men: It can hurt your sperm

Chronic stress, ongoing stress over an extended period of time, can affect testosterone production, sperm production and maturation, and even cause erectile dysfunction or impotence.

Ladies: It can affect your menstrual cycles 

Stress may affect menstruation in many ways. For example, high levels of stress may be associated with absent or irregular menstrual cycles, more painful periods and changes in the length of cycles.  It can also make premenstrual symptoms worse or more difficult to cope with.

As menopause approaches, hormone levels fluctuate rapidly. These changes are associated with anxiety, mood swings and feelings of distress. Thus menopause can be a stressor in and of itself. Some of the physical changes associated with menopause, especially hot flashes, can be difficult to cope with.

Sexual Desire

Women juggle personal, family, professional, financial and a broad range of other demands across their life span. Stress, distraction, fatigue, etc., may reduce sexual desire.

 So as we can see stress affects much more than our mental wellbeing.  In order to lower the risks of chronic illness cause by stress we need to take a step back and look at what we are holding onto.
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The Mind Centre was a counselling and meditation centre for several years before morphing into an information centre for people seeking to know more about mind and body health.

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