This Is What Happens To Your Body When You’re Stressed
According to the Stress Management Society, stress can flare up in physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral ways. Here are some signals to look out for.
It’s easy to go through the laundry list of things that might cause stress in a person’s lifemoving into a new house, a negative work environment, financial concerns, or health problems, just to name a few. But it’s just as easy to ignore the symptoms of stress, largely because there are so many ways the condition can manifest. According to the Stress Management Society, stress can flare up in physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral ways. If you or someone you love is feeling crushed under pressure, here are some bodily signals to look out for.
What Happens When You Get Stressed Out
One thing that happens a lot in education is that kids get stressed out.
Some kids get stressed by the school environment. Maybe youre at a school that has a lot of competition and you dont like competition.
Some kids get stressed by certain types of activities. Common activities that can be stressful are public speaking and test taking.
Some kids get stressed out by social interactions. Maybe you havent found any friends at your school. Maybe youre homeschooled and you havent found anyone yet who has similar interests to yours.
Some kids find one particular teacher or subject stressful, maybe because theyre worried they arent good at the subject theyre studying.
Heres the #1 thing you should know about stress:
Being stressed out keeps your brain from doing its best.
If you get stressed out by public speaking or tests, I bet you know exactly what Im talking about. Maybe you know everything there is to know about U.S. history, but you get to a test and you freeze up. Not only have your hands gone clammy and you feel sick to your stomach, but your brain just stops working! You cant remember anything!
The reason for this is how our brains evolved. We have something called the fight or flight response. When we start to get stressed out, our brain switches gears and suddenly were in panic mode.
Our brains wouldnt say, Hm, lets take some time to think this over.
Our brains would say, Run!
Fight or flight is a great thing to have when youve spotted a lion.
Your System Elicits A Fight
The bodys fight-or-flight response developed as a survival mechanism, allowing our ancestors to react quickly when faced with an immediate threat. When it kicks in, a flood of stress hormones is released to help you either stay and battle whatever adversary is in front of you or high-tail it out of there.
Though you may not have to worry about fending off predators in the wild, modern-day threats, such as a beastly financial problem, can set off the same type of reaction.
The fight-or-flight response is hard on the body. It drains us, said Aimee Daramus, a clinical psychologist in Chicago. Daramus said this type of stress can cause muscles to tense up to the point of serious pain. It also impairs the functioning of the immune system, making you more vulnerable to a lot of other illnesses. It can cause headache and stomachache, even if you dont consciously feel stressed, she added.
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Dont Let Money Problems Hurt Your Health
When youre struggling financially, things can seem hopeless. And the truth is that the solution is rarely simple, especially for those who can barely make ends meet. But that doesnt mean there isnt help out there for you.
Try credit counseling: If youre in over your head financially and dont know where to start, a credit counselor can help. Available through nonprofits at little to no cost, credit counseling helps you create a plan for getting your finances back on track. Check out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to find help near you.
Attend therapy: If youre experiencing a decline in your mental health due to financial problems and stress, its a good idea to work with a therapist who can serve as a sounding board and recommend treatment. There are several ways to make therapy more affordable.
Seek healthy coping mechanisms: When you feel stressed out all the time, it can be tempting to pick up unhealthy habits that exacerbate your physical and mental symptoms. Thats why its so important to find simple, healthy methods of managing stress, in addition to getting help from professionals. Try running, cooking, meditating or another relaxing activity that helps calm your nerves and refocus your mind.
You’re Having Trouble Learning Something New
We’ve all been there. We’re trying to learn something new, and we just can’t seem to concentrate. Whether it’s from the pressure to perform or some other kind of outside stressor, there’s a very real and very biological reason that stress might seem to interfere with your ability to learn and remember.
Researchers from the UC Irvine School of Medicine looked at exactly what goes on in the brain during times of short-term stress . They found that acute stress releases a molecule called corticotropin, which interferes with the process of learning. Learning happens in a part of the brain called the synapses, and when corticotropin is released it interferes with the synapses’ ability to communicate and collect memories: i.e., learning. The stress molecule actually destroys the structures responsible for allowing us to learn new things, and the structures only re-grow when the stress hormone is removed.
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The Most Common Causes Of Stress
Certain events are natural stressors . As for the rest of lifes stress-inducers, its really all about interpretation, says Gupta. What we see with patients is that some event happens, and based on what the patient has experienced in the past, theyll react with a certain level of stress and discomfort, or be calm.
The causes of stress can also feel more amorphous. You may experience stress when you feel that youve lost your purpose in life or that youre not relating to friends or a spouse. The triggers really vary widely, she says.
What Happens When You Get Stressed
On Thursday 17 August thousands of A-level students are set to receive their results. Just when you thought the exam period was the most stressful thing youd had to do now it can be an agonising wait to find out if youre going to the University you set your heart on. As part of our series on Clearing Dr Holly Blake, School of Health Sciences, at the University of Nottingham analyses the effect of stress on the body and gives some tips on how to stay calm.
Stressed student sitting in a classroom at a table while doing a test
We all feel stressed from time to time and its all part of the emotional ups and downs of life. Stress has many sources. It can come from our environment, from our bodies, or our own thoughts and how we view the world around us. It is very natural to feel stressed around moments of pressure, like exam time. But we are physiologically designed to deal with stress, and react to it. When we feel under pressure the nervous system instructs our bodies to release a cascade of stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These produce physiological changes to help us cope with the threat or danger we see to be upon us. This is called the stress response or the fight or flight response.
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Do Women React To Stress Differently Than Men Do
Yes, studies show that women are more likely than men to experience . Women who are stressed are more likely than men who are stressed to experience depression and anxiety. Experts do not fully know the reason for the differences, but it may be related to how mens and womens bodies process stress hormones. Long-term stress especially is more likely to cause problems with moods and anxiety in women.
When You’re Stressed You Make Worse Food Choices
“People that are stressed may use food as a comfort,” Kahn, clinical professor of medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, told Insider. “You don’t usually munch on broccoli when you’re stressed. You’re usually grabbing for a doughnut and chips.”
While not everyone stress-eats, stress leads to a fight-or-flight response in most people, which can release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which increases appetite. Persisting stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, according to Harvard Health Publishing. When a stressful event events, cortisol levels should decrease. But for people stuck in a cycle of stress, cortisol levels may remain elevated and people may still feel an urge to eat sugary, fatty snacks.
One landmark 2007 study found that people with higher cortisol levels were more likely to snack in response to stress.
Women are more likely to stress-eat than men. One 2014 study found that stress-eating was more common in girls than boys. The American Psychological Association found that women are more likely than men to report stress-eating, with 31% of women reporting eating during tumultuous times versus 21% of men.
Geyer also noted that stress can also mess with leptin and ghrelin two hormones that regulate our desire for food spurring us to eat more.
Still, there’s a heap of evidence showing a workout might make you feel better.
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Keep Your Supervisor Informed
As you slip back into your usual workflow, keep your supervisor and HR department updated on your health.
Make sure to ask for any support you need. Youre within your rights to ask for reasonable accommodations, such as:
- bringing plants for your workspace
- relocating to a desk or office with natural light
- moving to a quieter or private workspace
- adjusting break time for example, taking four 10-minute breaks instead of two 20-minute breaks
Worried You May Be Suffering From High Stress
Take our 2-minute stress level quiz to see if you could benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.
If you are experiencing any of these signs you may want to take action to reduce stress today. Here are some simple but revealing questions you can ask yourself to pinpoint areas for improvement or change. Asking the right questions can identify what improvements you can make to feel more relaxed and in control of your health.
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What Are The Signs Of Stress
How you might feel
You may behave differently if youre stressed. You may:
- withdraw from other people or snap at them
- be indecisive or inflexible
- have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
- experience sexual problems
- smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs more than usual.
If the stress is long-lasting, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise.
Some research has also linked long-term stress to gastrointestinal conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or stomach ulcers, as well as conditions like cardiovascular disease.
Things You Should Know About Stress
Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but what is stress? How does it affect your overall health? And what can you do to manage your stress?
Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Any type of challengesuch as performance at work or school, a significant life change, or a traumatic eventcan be stressful.
Stress can affect your health. It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stressors, so you know when to seek help.
Here are five things you should know about stress.
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Common Signs That Someone Might Need More Support
While its true that some stress is healthy and necessary, stress that interferes with our ability to get things done, relationships, and overall quality of life needs to be addressed. Here are some signs that you or someone you care about may be suffering from chronic stress:
- Depression or apathy that interferes with their obligations or social activities
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
- Having a hard time managing day-to-day tasks/challenges or has unusually strong reactions to minimally stressful situations
- Being quick to anger, frustration or agitation and/or lashing out at other people more than usual.
- Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
When You’re Suffering From Chronic Stress
While some stress is good, if you’re suffering from these symptoms it may indicate the stress in your life is becoming a problem that’s interfering with your ability to function. If that’s the case, what do you do?
The American Psychological Association says that some things that can help include setting limits on what demands you’re placing on yourself, sharing your feelings with close friends or family members, and reminding yourself to try to keep a positive outlook wherever possible. They also suggest making a commitment to a single activity that will improve your overall health, like taking a short walk on your lunch break or cutting out that second cup of coffee in the morning. They also suggest trying some relaxation techniques to help you get a better night’s sleep, and also say that if stress is interfering with your daily life, psychologists can give you any number of techniques to help it all become more manageable.
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They Take Time To Disconnect From Work
Work is a major cause of stress for many people, so it’s important to make some boundaries between your work life and your personal life. A study from the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that psychological detachment from work during non-work time is important for employee recovery and health.
Everyone gets stressed, but practicing the right daily habits can help give you the power and control to prevent your emotions from overwhelming you.
Images: Pixabay Isla Murray/Bustle
Stress And Physical Illness
When we feel under stress, our body kicks into high gear to deal with the threat. Our heartbeat, breathing rate and blood pressure all go up. The longer we feel stressed, the greater the demand on our body.The more often we are placed under stress, the more often we have to use energy to cope. There is growing evidence that stress may contribute to physical illness such as cardiovascular disease , high blood pressure, proneness to infection and chronic fatigue.Whatever the cause, physical diseases need appropriate medical management before any attempt is made at stress management. Discuss with your doctor how stress management may be used to support treatment of your physical symptoms.
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How To Manage Stress And Soothe Your Nervous System
Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent stress from pushing you over that proverbial edge and jangling your nervous system. While its important to focus on the basics of good health getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night, sticking to a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet , and getting about 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every week, Gupta recommends using any technique that feels natural and enjoyable, and makes sense in your life.
Take Care Of Yourself
When you are facing ongoing stress, it is particularly important to practice healthy self-care. Give yourself breaks to relax, follow a nutritious diet, get regular exercise, and find ways to protect your sleep.
Exercise, for example, has a wide range of positive health benefits, including reductions in perceived stress and anxiety. However, research also suggests that experiencing stress also makes it more difficult for people to stick to their usual physical activity routine.
If stress makes it difficult to stay motivated to exercise, look for ways to gradually make exercise a part of your routine. Set small goals, even if it’s 10 to 20 minutes of activity a day, and then gradually work your way up. You may find that over time, engaging in physical activity actually helps you better cope with your stress.
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How Your Body Reacts To Stress
A little tension can keep you on your toes. Too much can break down the system
We all feel stressed from time to time its all part of the emotional ups and downs of life. Stress has many sources, it can come from our environment, from our bodies, or our own thoughts and how we view the world around us. It is very natural to feel stressed around moments of pressure such as exam time but we are physiologically designed to deal with stress, and react to it.
When we feel under pressure the nervous system instructs our bodies to release stress hormones including adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These produce physiological changes to help us cope with the threat or danger we see to be upon us. This is called the stress response or the fight-or-flight response.
Stress can actually be positive, as the stress response help us stay alert, motivated and focused on the task at hand. Usually, when the pressure subsides, the body rebalances and we start to feel calm again. But when we experience stress too often or for too long, or when the negative feelings overwhelm our ability to cope, then problems will arise. Continuous activation of the nervous system experiencing the stress response causes wear and tear on the body.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Holly Blake, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science, University of Nottingham