When you learn exactly how your body responds to stress, it can be a HUGE “a-ha” moment.
It helps you understand what you can do to calm your body so you feel instantly more balanced and more in control – and why that’s so important!
It’s tempting to think we can power through stress, but over time it takes a real toll.
Here are just some of the ways stress change your body:
You can gain weight in the form of BODY FAT. Having chronically high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can 1) make you hungry and 2) increase fat storage. That can contribute to weight gain and the buildup of fatty tissues.
It can make it HARD TO SLEEP. Besides the fact that being stressed can keep you awake at night, when your cortisol levels are out of whack, it can make your body want to stay up at night and sleep during the day (which causes an even bigger hormonal disruption, affecting your hunger hormones).
You can feel aches, pains, and headaches. When you’re stressed, your muscles tighten up. Over time, this can cause things like migraines and low-back pain – and even set the stage for injury!
It can hurt your heart. Repeatedly high stress hormone levels, elevated heart rate and blood pressure can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.
Your immune system takes a big hit. Over time, communication between your body’s stress response centers and your immune system becomes disrupted. This has been linked to the development of chronic fatigue, depression, immune disorders, diabetes, and obesity.
It’s bad for your gut. It disrupts the workings of your digestive system – not just from the extra hormones floating around your body, but also by impacting your appetite. This can lead to acid reflux, bloating, nausea, pain, and even diarrhea or constipation.
Even your sex life can take a dive. Stress can dampen libido, disrupt menstrual cycles, and affect your fertility.
This is why it’s SO IMPORTANT to make time destress.
Your body is wired to handle short-term stress to get out of a jam. But it’s not set up to handle being “go-go-go” 24/7!
Here are some things you can do to destress yourself:
● Exercise regularly! Study after study shows how exercise can increase your body’s “feel-good” hormones and help reduce the stress-causing hormones.
● Create a daily positivity practice, reading or watching inspirational books and videos. This helps create a positive, resilient mindset.
● Engage in hobbies or pastimes that make you feel good. This can include anything from cooking and crafting to making music or rebuilding cars.
● Volunteer or help someone. Your body will release feel good hormones (oxytocin and endorphins) so you aren’t just helping others – you also are helping yourself!