We often hear people referring to stress as the number one silent killer, but how true is that? It is difficult to prove it, but when we look at the ten leading causes of death worldwide according to World Health Organization, we can relate chronic stress with six of them. Unfortunately, it is a problem we tend to ignore. What we fail to understand is the fact that stress is not something that happens in our minds and goes away without any consequences. Stress is much more than just an emotion, it is a physical response that travels throughout the body. When it lasts for long periods of time or happens too often, it can cause damage to every part of our body. In this text, we will further discuss the harmful influence of stress on our body, as well as ways of fighting back.
How Is Stress Impacting Your Body?
Stress is a feeling that happens when we are overwhelmed by something (studying for an exam, too much work, etc.), but as a physical reaction, it travels through your body. Short term stress can be useful, but when it lasts long or happens often your “fight or flight” response can damage many organs in your body. The stress hormones that are traveling through your bloodstream can easily reach your blood vessels and heart, as well as other cells and organs. All of these changes lead to responding reactions of your organs, and some of them can be very dangerous.
What Happens Inside Your Organism in Conditions of Chronic Stress?
Prolonged stress impacts your central nervous system, causing anxiety, irritability, depression, insomnia, etc. It does not leave your respiratory and cardiovascular system alone either, leading to high blood pressure, problems with blood vessels, and breathing problems, among other. The next in line is your digestive system which can be rather upset by stress, so you can experience heartburn, acid reflux, nausea, vomiting, ulcers acting up, etc. Chronic stress also damages your muscular system (e.g. back pain, body aches), reproductive system (loss of sexual desire, irregular menstrual cycle…), skin (changes in texture, tone…) and immune system (it makes you more susceptible to various illnesses).
Where Does the Stress Build Up?
Now you must be wondering where is all this stress piling up? Well, it is most often stored in the psoas – a muscle that stretches your lower trunk through your hips into the top of your thighs. It is the most central muscle for your stress response, and when you do not react the stress hormones remain unspent and stored in your body. A chronically tightened muscle will signal your body that you are in danger, which produces the need to fight back.
How to Fight Stress?
We all respond to and deal with stress differently, but there are some common ways to fight back, that proved to be efficient. One of the ways of dealing with stress is social engagement. This means that you should communicate with your friends and family, discuss your problems with them and make new friendships. Taking the time to relax is essential. During that period, try to practice some soothing activities, such as yoga and meditation. Massages and self-massages, hot baths and aromatherapy are a great way to relax in the comfort of your home. Make your living space a relaxing and stress-free retreat. You can consult Feng Shui experts to help you in that cause. Staying in nature can be very helpful to avoid a burnout. Some research suggested that pets and other animals can be helpful in reducing stress as well. Try to introduce some healthy habits – read a feel-good book, take regular walks, work out, sleep at least 8 hours per night, and think positively. Life can be really great if you believe in it.
Of course, there are no guarantees that getting rid of stress can be easy (the process of its piling up probably lasted for years) but you should be persistent since the reward significantly outweighs the efforts.