In life, there are ups and downs in how we feel. We all get stressed at some point. Many things can cause us to be stressed, and it can come from our environment, our bodies, or how we think about the world around us. It is normal to feel stressed when there is a lot of pressure, like when you have an exam. However, our bodies are built to deal with stress and react to it.
When we feel under a lot of stress, the nervous system tells our bodies to release stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. These make our bodies do things that help us deal with the threat or danger we see coming. In this case, it’s called the “fight or flight” response or the “stress response.”
Stress can be a good thing because it makes us more alert, motivated, and focused on the task. When the pressure dies down, the body balances itself, and we feel calm again. However, there will be problems if we get stressed out too often, for too long, or if we can’t handle the negative feelings.
Table of Contents
Effects of Stress on Physical Health
1. Hormone Abnormalities
The hypothalamus in the brain sends messages to the pituitary gland and the adrenal medulla, which tell them to get ready to fight or flee when they are stressed. The stress hormone cortisol is one of the hormones released in the cascade. As it spreads, it causes faster heart and breathing rates, a higher pulse, more sweat, and more blood pressure, all of which help us deal with threats and danger.
Microglia, a type of nerve cell in the brain and spinal cord, are also affected by this cascade. A study in Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology found this. After the danger passes, your body is supposed to bring these hormones back down to normal levels. If you’re always stressed, though, they stay high all the time, even though your body is supposed to bring them back down.
2. Affects Immune System
A lot of stress can hurt your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections. Stress has been linked to a weak immune system, in part because when you’re stressed, your body changes how it releases hormones that help your body fight off infections. This is why so many studies have linked stress to weak immune systems. When your immune system overreacts, it starts to attack healthy cells instead of threatening ones. This is called chronic immune activation, and it can happen repeatedly.
It can also make your body more vulnerable to sickness and take longer to heal from diseases and infections. A study in Microbial Pathogenesis in 2019 found that stress can help bacteria grow, which worsens infections.
3. Reduced Sleep
Stress makes us more alert and panicky, which makes it hard for us to relax and get a good night’s sleep. Stress stops the mind from relaxing, which makes it very hard to get a good sleep.
Stress can cause you to not get enough sleep, which can change the way your brain works. This can make neurons less able to communicate and make it hard for you to think. If you look at the research on stress and sleep, you can see that being stressed right after birth can affect our sleep all the way through adulthood.
4. Impact Gut Health
A lot of stress and other emotions can make the digestive system very sensitive. Stress can also have a big impact on your gut health. A research study found that stress can harm the microbiome that helps the gut work, but the effects of stress can vary a lot from person to person. Stress can cause everything from indigestion, nausea, and vomiting to constipation.
5. Impacts Heart Health
Stress can put a lot of pressure on the heart. When you’re stressed, your heart pumps faster to get blood to your body so that you can deal with threats. This can cause long-term damage over time. People who are stressed are more likely to have cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and other heart problems.
6. Turn Hair Gray
There is some evidence that stress can make mice’s hair white. Melanocyte stem cells, which live in our hair follicles and make our hair color, don’t like when our bodies fight or flee response.
Melanocyte stem cells die as we get older, which makes our skin gradually lighter over time. A recent research study found that stress sped up the process. Stress could change your hair color, but it’s hard to say for sure how.
A good way to lessen the effects of stress on your body and health is to deal with it. Trying yoga, meditation, mindfulness, massage, psychotherapy, or a mix of these things can help you deal with stress. You’ll likely have your own unique ways of dealing with stress, whether it’s singing or bike riding. Moreover, the consequences are both physically and psychologically relaxing.
Untreated stress and anxiety can worsen and cause additional stress in a person’s life if it is not addressed. A combination of counseling, natural anxiety medication, dietary modifications, and medicine, on the other hand, is extremely effective in treating anxiety.
It is possible that a person will need to attempt numerous different combinations of therapies and remedies before finding one that is effective. A doctor can assist a patient in how to improve sleep naturally, determining which treatment alternatives are the most beneficial.