The 6 letter word that we all stress about- STRESS. Even the sound of this word makes you stress. We all know what stress is, but what does it do to our physical well-being? We all live with stress, but if we don’t manage it, it can have a great effect on both our mind and body. Stress is not all bad though. It protects us by enabling the body to react quickly to threatening situations. This is called the fight-or-flight response. However, in modern times, our stress response is triggered even if our lives are not in danger and chronic exposure to stress can damage the body.
What is Acute stress?
When you suddenly experience stress, a reaction happens in your body. This reaction is explained in the diagram below:
The way to combat acute stress is to reach a point of homeostasis. According to Biology Online, homeostasis is “(1) The tendency of an organism or a cell to regulate its internalconditions, usually by a system of feedbackcontrols, so as to stabilize health and functioning, regardless of the outside changing conditions. (2) The ability of the body or a cell to seek and maintain a condition of equilibrium or stability within its internalenvironment when dealing with external changes”. This will bring the blood pressure, blood sugar, breathing and heart rate back to normal and your pupils will also return to normal.
What is Chronic stress?
Chronic stress is a state of prolonged and continuous stress. This can have some seriously drastic effects on the body. In a state of chronic stress, your sympathetic nervous system (that helps with the fight-or-flight response) is constantly active, although there is no danger. Therefore, the body is constantly stressed and can’t reach homeostasis, and is in a constant state of danger management. Your liver monitors the release of cortisol and other corticoids by theadrenal gland.With chronic stress, the liver is bypassed and corticoids are overly produced. Too many corticoids can lead to a reduction in the immune system, which means that the possibility of getting sick is increased. Too many corticoids also make the body more resistant to adrenaline. This means that adrenaline keeps on being produced, keeping the body in a continuous state of stress.
The following diagram (adapted from The American Institute of Stress)sums up some of the effects stress can have on your
Fighting stress with exercise: Time to get physical
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