Humans are designed to experience stress and react to it. It is a normal part of life. Most people tend to think of it as a negative thing, but it’s not always bad. In fact, it can be a positive force that motivates you to perform well. But chronic stress can take a toll on your health.
How does stress affect your health?
Stress, when left unaddressed, can lead to health problems. In fact, studies suggest that 90% of serious medical conditions, including heart disease and cancer, are attributed to stress; while 70% of doctor visits are stress-related complaints.
The autonomic nervous system controls everybody functions, along with the organs that carry them out. The smooth functioning of the nervous system is disturbed when you’re stressed. It signals the release of cortisol and adrenaline, triggering our body’s fight or flight response.
The systems won’t return to their normal functioning unless the stressor goes away. But if your body’s stress levels remain elevated, it can negatively affect your health.
Stress can even affect your thoughts feelings and behavior. It can lead to personality changes, depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your cardiovascular system. The elevated levels of stress hormones, elevated blood pressure, and the constant and ongoing increase in heart rate could increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and stroke.
Stress disrupts your immune system. It reduces its ability to fight off antigens, increasing your chance of becoming ill. So, don’t be surprised if you come down with something.
Stress triggers the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. When this happens, the immune system slows down and other bodily functions are halted until the stressful situation has passed. If you tend to get stressed out frequently, your immune system remains this way. The longer the stress last, the more potentially harmful the effects are.
If you have experienced one or more of the effects above, then you need to take steps to manage it. Don’t let stress impact your health.