Stress & Your Body

HOW STRESS AFFECTS YOUR BODY

By Margot Rutigliano | Updated January 5, 2019

Stress is one of those “bad” words. It’s a six letter bad word instead of four. Still, it’s one of those lingering words that stresses you even just to think about it. We all know stress is bad for our bodies and minds but why? At Vita Vie Retreat, we teach stress reduction along with the importance of physical fitness and healthy eating. Our world has become increasingly more stressful, especially in the last few years. It’s time for people to address their stressors and reduce the impact of stress on the body and mind.

Stress reduction is a key element for our immune systems to function optimally.

The Body’s Stress Response To Stress: The “fight-or-flight” stress response involves a cascade of biological changes that prepare us for emergency action. When danger is sensed, a small part of the brain called the hypothalamus sets off a chemical alarm. The sympathetic nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. These stress hormones race through the bloodstream, readying us to either flee the scene or battle it out.

Heart rate and blood flow to the large muscles increase so we can run faster and fight harder. Blood vessels under the skin constrict to prevent blood loss in case of injury, pupils dilate so we can see better, and our blood sugar ramps up, giving us an energy boost and speeding up reaction time. At the same time, body processes not essential to immediate survival are suppressed. The digestive and reproductive systems slow down, growth hormones are switched off, and the immune response is inhibited.

Woman relaxing to reduce stress in her body.

TYPES OF STRESS

o    Physical Stress

Good Physical Stress – Physical stress in the form of movement or exercise if very beneficial. The actual stress comes from loading the muscles and bones of our body under the influence of gravity. Adequate movement and exercise helps us to maintain an optimal metabolic rate, keeping us from becoming overweight.

Bad Physical Stress – Over exercising can cause immune system suppression, under exercising can cause one to be overweight and sluggish and poor posture has a significant influence on breathing, muscle function, joint health, circulation and internal organ support. When the body structure is not in balance, the rest of the system follows.

 

o    Chemical Stress

Good – Our bodies are full of chemicals, naturally produced chemicals that are essential for health. The work of producing these key chemicals is a necessary stress for the body. For example, when your body systems are working correctly, exercise results in chemical adaptations in the form of hormonal changes that alter your biochemistry to increase protein synthesis, energy production and myriad other chemical reactions.

Bad – Today we are bombarded by thousands of chemicals that were not around one hundred years ago. Many of these chemicals are synthetic, and our bodies do not have mechanisms to neutralize them. Synthetically manufactured medical drugs are a common form of unfavorable chemical stress. Something as simple as aspirin would be chemical stress. Other examples are agricultural chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers.

 

o    Electromagnetic Stress

Good – Sunlight! Without sunlight, we wouldn’t be alive. The electromagnetic field of the earth is also a good form of this kind of stress. This invisible field helps control the rhythm of our hormones and other physiological functions. Weather patterns – at the onset of a thunderstorm, many people feel changes in their joints, muscles and even their moods.

Bad – Over exposure to sunlight – this is the most obvious form of bad electromagnetic stress. Other types of bad electromagnetic stress are radiation, low frequency pollution emitted by electronic devices such as computers, cell phones, microwave ovens, electric motors, tv, and even an electric blanket.

 

o    Mental Stress

Good – Thinking and using your mind productively represents good mental stress. Having a plan or setting goals in your life and doing the work to achieve them is also a positive form of mental stress. Overcoming adversity to become a stronger, better person is another example.

Bad – Focusing on things you DON’T want in life instead of things you DO want is called “stinking thinking” and leads to an abnormally high level of mental stress. Other forms of mental stress include verbal abuse, being rushed, taking on more work or responsibility than you can manage.

 

o    Thermal Stress

Good Thermal Stress – Maintaining your body temperature at 98.6 degrees F. Good stress is when the body has to regulate itself to remain at this temperature.

Bad Thermal Stress – An abnormally high body temperature for an extended period of time is a bad form of thermal stress as well as anything that burns you.

 

WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS

Try a simple breathing technique: Breathe in to the count of 4, hold the breath for four counts and exhale to the count of 4. This can be repeated a number of times. Within the first 20 seconds you will start to lower the heart rate. Within the first 40 seconds you will start to lower blood pressure and within the first minute you’ll experience a reduction in the production of cortisol which leads to excess abdominal fat.

Exercise like a short walk or even stretching and foam rolling can help relieve physical stress.

Body treatments such as massage, facials and body scrubs are great ways to loosen muscular tension and reduce stress.

Stressful Situations – Ask yourself “Is it worth it? Is it the actual Stress or HOW WE REACT TO THE STRESS that is causing tension and anxiety?

Smile & Laugh Often!

Join our fitness retreat to learn and practice the ways you can reduce stress. Stress can lead to serious health issues and it’s time to take a stand now. Relax, rejuvenate the revive yourself with us.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post! Please leave any questions or comments in the comment section below.

Best In Health & Wellness,

Margot + The Vita Vie Retreat Team