Your Body on Stress
Have you ever wondered what happens to your body when you’re stressed?
It’s pretty fascinating!
C’mon…I’ll give to you a quick guided tour.
It’s our brain’s job to save our lives…and as incredible as the human brain is,
it can’t distinguish between a real threat (your life is truly in danger) or a perceived threat (for example – when you’re walking alone after dark and think you hear someone coming up behind you even though there is no one there)…all the brain knows is that if there is a threat of any kind it needs to do something.
The brain triggers the Primary Stress Response (or Fight & Flight) to save our lives. This is an immediate and an urgent response to what the brain believes to be a serious threat.
Here are a few of the changes that occur in the body when the Primary Stress Response has been triggered:
Heart: begins to pound, sending blood around body carrying sugar (energy) and hormones (eg. adrenalin)
Skin: pales as blood diverted to vital organs.
Muscles: tense in readiness for action
Lungs: air passage dilates, breathing more intense to provide more oxygen to feed increase blood supply.
Blood: thickens to help it carry more oxygen, fight infection & stop bleeding
Liver: glycogen converted to blood sugar to give ‘short distance’ energy.
Sweat Glands: start up to cool the underlying and overheated muscles
Digestion: processes shut down as blood diverted elsewhere. Mouth goes dry to avoid adding extra fluids to stomach.
Bladder & Rectum: Muscles relax to release any excess load.
Once the threat is over or resolved, the Primary Stress Response is supposed to shut down and the body returns to a state of normalcy.
But what happens if you have ongoing stress? Good question!
There is also a Secondary Stress Response that occurs when there is ongoing stress that hasn’t been effectively dealth with (for example chronic stress, worries, negative thoughts, procrastination, etc.).
Essentially the Fight or Flight in the Primary Stress Response continues on and on. It’ doesn’t turn off.
Take a look at what happens if this ongoing stress is not dealt with effectively.
Skin: less blood supply can lead to diseases developing.
Heart: racing heartbeat and high blood pressure can lead to strokes or heart attacks.
Muscles: ongoing tension leads to aches & pains, even muscle strain.
Blood: heart works harder due to thickened blood.
Lungs: super-oxygenated blood can lead to blackouts and upset heart rhythms.
Cholestrol: high cholesterol in blood can cause hardening of the arteries.
Liver: body’s own fats and proteins broken down and released to provide further energy.
Digestion: shutdown can lead to stomach problems, particularly if you eat on the run. Increase in acidity can contribute to stomach ulcers.
Our bodies send us messages when we’re under stress. These are like early warning signs. Stress shows up in many ways and in many forms.
Scan the list below to see how many of these warning signs you experience.
Physical Signs of Primary Stress Response:
Muscle tension and or headaches
Sleep disturbances & fatigue
Increased skin breakouts
Flushing (face feeling hot)
Physical Signs of Secondary Stress Response (Ongoing Stress)
Prolonged or frequent headaches
Susceptibility to illness (colds, flu, etc.)
Dizziness / Fainting
Breathlessness / Chest Pain
Ongoing Nausea / Stomach ache
Behavioral Signs of Primary Stress Response
Appetite changes / compulsive eating
Avoidance of situations, places, people
Changes in sleeping patterns
Behavioral Signs of Ongoing Stress
Increased use of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
Anger or aggression
Emotional Signs of Primary Stress Response
Moodiness / Grumpiness
Loss of sense of humor
Withdrawal / Feeling of isolation
Low self esteem
Feelings of guilt and shame
Emotional Signs of Ongoing Stress
Loss of sex drive or interest in sex
Overwhelming feelings of panic or anxiety
Cognitive Signs (Thoughts & Perceptions) of Primary Stress Response
Inability to make decisions or muddled thinking
Lack of creativity
Becoming more vague or forgetful
Negative ‘Globalization’ – everything seems to go wrong, or everything is bad
Fear of rejection
Over-sensitive to criticism
Cognitive Signs of Ongoing Stress
Lack of or unable to focus
Negative Self Talk
Feelings of ‘unfairness’
Feeling that you can’t switch off or settle
If you can relate to any of these stress warning signs, please do yourself a favor and learn some effective stress management techniques. Life’s too short to be stressed or unhappy. You will be so glad you did.
Of course, we have an incredible team of excellent Counsellors who can help. They are all pleased to share their techniques, tips and processes so that you can learn how to manage your stress and be the happy and healthy person you were meant to be. Book an appointment
Plus, I’ve got a free technique just waiting for you! It’s on the homepage of my website www.penneymurphy.com. It’s in a Pop Up Box that will show up about 5 seconds after you’ve clicked on to the home page.
Look for ‘The Absolute Best, Easiest & Most Effective Stress Management Technique Ever!’ Enter your name and email address and you’ll receive it free in a PDF document sent directly to your inbox. My gift to you.
Cheers to less stress and more relaxation,