What is Stress?

Our bodies process and deal with thousand of events and interactions every day. Most of the time we don't even notice it. But sometimes those moments trigger our bodies to believe we're in danger. That's stress – anything that causes us to be overtaxed or overburdened.

In a potentially dangerous situation – whether real or perceived by the brain – the body reacts as if it needs to fight or flee for survival. This is something we call the fight-or-flight response. That reaction triggers a release of hormones in the body, which sets off a string of other side effects:

  • Racing heart
  • Shallow breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Sweaty palms

In the event of chronic stress, it's as if that danger is waiting right at our doorstep. The body is constantly preparing to fight or flee. Chronic stress can lead to problems throughout our body, such as:

  • Brain – Difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression, irritability, mood wings, mind fog, poor sleep
  • Cardiovascular – High blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Joints and muscles – Increased inflammation, tension, aches and pains, muscle tightness
  • Reproductive system – Decreased hormone production, decrease in libido, increase in PMS symptoms
  • Gut – Nutrient absorption, indigestion, bloating, pain and discomfort
  • Immune system – Decreased immune function, lowered immune defenses, increased risk of becoming ill, decrease in recovery time
  • Skin and hair – Hair loss, dull/brittle hair, brittle nails, dry skin, acne, delayed tissue repair

 

Learn more – why stress happens

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