We all feel stressed from time to time as it’s all part of the emotional ups and downs of life. It happens to loners, single people, and people in relationships, too. There might be some obvious reasons why your wife is constantly under stress, so check out this article. However, stress has many sources, it can come from our environment, from our bodies, or our own thoughts. It’s a natural process in moments of pressure, we are physiologically designed to deal with stress, and react to it. What exactly happens when we are overstressed is what we can now discover.
When we feel we’re under pressure, the nervous system instructs our bodies to release stress hormones. These might include adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. The hormones produce physiological changes to help us cope with the threat or danger and this is known as the “stress response” or the “fight-or-flight” response.
Stress can also be positive, as the stress response helps us stay alert, motivated and focused on the current task. So, when the pressure is gone, the body will rebalance and start to feel calm once again. However, when we experience stress too often or for too long, other problems may arise. This constant activation of the nervous system and the stress response will eventually cause wear and tear on the body.
When you are stressed even your respiratory system is affected. This is more than familiar. You immediately start to breathe harder and more quickly to distribute oxygen-rich blood around your body. While it’s not something concerning, people with asthma might feel short of breath and struggle to take in enough oxygen. It can also cause quick and shallow breathing, taking minimal air in, which might lead to hyperventilation. If you are prone to anxiety and panic attacks, this is more likely to happen to you.
Stress also wreaks havoc on our immune systems. The released cortisol suppresses the immune system and inflammatory pathways. Therefore, we become more susceptible to infections and chronic inflammatory conditions. In short, our ability to fight off illness is reduced.
The musculoskeletal system is also an affected area. Your muscles might tense up, which is the body’s natural way of protecting yourself from injury and pain. This tension can cause bodily aches and even lead to headaches and migraines.
There are cardiovascular effects as well. When stress is acute, or in the moment, heart rate and blood pressure will be increased. If you experience acute stress repeatedly, it can cause damage to blood vessels and arteries. This increases the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.
Another system that might suffer is the endocrine system. This system regulates mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism and reproductive processes. Our metabolism is also affected. The hypothalamus, which is located in the brain, plays a key role in connecting the endocrine system with the nervous system. Stress signals are coming from the hypothalamus and trigger the release of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. Next, blood sugar is produced by the liver to provide you with energy to deal with the stressful situation. It happens too often that many people reabsorb the extra blood sugar when the stress subsides. For some, however, there is an increased risk of diabetes.
Stress can lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal effects, like heartburn and acid reflux. We may experience stomach pain, bloating and nausea, diarrhoea or constipation.
There might be problems with our reproductive systems too. Chronic stress may affect the production of testosterone and sperm for men. Women, on the other hand, can experience changes to their menstrual cycles and increased premenstrual symptoms.
Stress also affects your emotional well-being. When we are stressed, we may feel more tired or feel more irritable. Stress might impair concentration, attention, learning and memory.
The way that we cope with stress also has an indirect effect on our health. When people feel under pressure, they might start smoking, drinking too much alcohol or take drugs.
The most important thing is to manage your stress. Some of it is normal, but some might cause a lot of harm, which is why, if you’re under too much pressure it could be wise to stop and think for a moment. And never be afraid to ask for an expert opinion.