The Effects of Stress
When we face a threat our sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear (fight or flight response). To face the danger our body:
- Releases adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol into the bloodstream. This gives us more energy
- Heart rate increases, blood vessels dilate and blood pressure rises (more blood is pumped to lungs and muscles for action)
- Breathing is faster and more shallow, air passages in the lungs dilate to enable more absorption of oxygen
When the danger goes away, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over, allowing our body to relax.
This amazing process in our body has kept us alive for thousands of years. But, even though there aren’t many mountain lions out to eat us, our body is still on high alert for danger. So if we are driving along, minding our own business and someone cuts us off making us feel threatened….. BOOM fight or flight goes into gear. We can’t run away from this threat. We can’t fight the other driver (or we shouldn’t). So now all this energy turns into stress and tension. This can eventually turn into life “burn-out”, anger, depression, anxiety, or even suicide. Some people even have physical symptoms that come out like headaches, high blood pressure, stomach disorders, asthma, and eventually death.
Jeesh. Death from stress?! Yep. Death from stress. How would you like that on your headstone?! “Here lies Molly. Stress finally got her”. How do we fight it? Can we fight it?
Yes we can!!! There are lots of things you can do to fight stress. Some of the most effective weapons are deep breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, visualization, and meditation.