One common theme I have noticed among my clients is that EVERYONE is stressed out. Life can get extremely challenging when trying to manage work obligations, family responsibilities, and the myriad of other curveballs life seems to throw your way. Top this off with intense workouts (aka another stress on the body), you could be setting yourself up for some serious health issues. The effects of too much physical stress (like over exercising), and/or emotional and mental stress can manifest itself in similar physiological ways. All the body knows is that too much is happening for it to handle, and something needs to give.
This past May was especially challenging for me, and I was not taking care to manage my stress levels like I should have been. So, as a reminder to both myself and to you, let’s talk about what stress does to the body, and next time we’ll cover what we can do to better manage it.
Effects of Excessive Stress on the Body:
Creates Chronic Muscular Tension: When constantly stressed, the body is in a continuous state of guardedness to protect itself from pain or injury. This can result in muscles being chronically tight or achy. If you find that you have chronic aches and pains or headaches that don’t seem to go away, that is your body’s way of trying to slow you down to keep you from doing more harm.
Makes the Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems Work Harder: Some of the primary symptoms of chronic stress include chest tightness, shortness of breath, increased asthma attacks, and heart palpitations. “Prolonged stress can contribute to abnormally high blood pressure and circulation problems. Interestingly, how you handle stress also influences how your cardiovascular system responds. Studies have shown that if stress makes you angry or irritable, you’re more likely to have heart disease or a heart attack. In fact, the way you respond to stress may be a greater risk factor for heart problems than smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.” 2 What does this mean practically? Learning to roll with the punches won’t take the stress itself away, but it won’t have the same physiological effects on your body as it could if you feed into that stress.
Chronically Increases Cortisol and Creates Other Hormonal Imbalances: Balanced hormones are necessary for proper bodily functioning, but chronic elevation or imbalances of hormones (including cortisol) can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive issues, decreased immunity, sleep issues, fat gain, muscle loss, increased blood sugar, memory/concentration issues, hair loss and acne.
Stress is inevitable, and not even all bad. We need stress to help us grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But, for overall health, we need to take care to manage our stress well. Being chronically stressed should not be looked at like a badge of honor. If left untreated, it can lead to a reduced quality of life and potentially serious health conditions.
The information found on this blog is based on my own personal thoughts and opinions. I am not a doctor or registered dietician. Please be sure to consult your health care professional before starting or changing any fitness or nutrition program.
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