Your body is equipped to handle small doses of everyday stress. When you live with long-term or chronic stress, however, it can have grueling effects on your entire physiology, including all of your major bodily systems. In this post, we’ll highlight just a few of the ways in which stress impacts the body.
How Stress Affects Your Body, System by System
When you experience stress, your muscles tense up; this is your body’s way of guarding against potential danger. But when you live with chronic stress, it means your muscles are constantly taut and “on guard.”
This state of constant muscular tension may result in a host of related symptoms, including headaches and neck pain. Additionally, ongoing muscle tension may result in stiffness, soreness, and ultimately muscular atrophy.
The respiratory system transports oxygen to your cells and removes carbon dioxide waste from the body. Stress can impair this process in a number of ways, contributing to worrisome symptoms like shortness of breath, which is caused by contraction of the airways.
In addition, studies have demonstrated that chronic stress can trigger asthma attacks, while rapid breathing may sometimes lead to hyperventilation. Finally, stress has been proven to be a risk factor for chronic bronchitis, COPD, and other serious lung conditions.
Your cardiovascular system is made up of two main components, blood vessels and the heart itself. This system provides vital nourishment and oxygen to all of your other organs. The functionality of this system is regulated by stress, which is why your pulse rises and your heartbeat increases any time you’re feeling anxious or afraid.
Naturally, chronic stress can result in long-term complications to your cardiovascular system. The toll of heightened blood flow and an increased heart rate can raise your risk for hypertension, stroke, and heart attack. There is also evidence to suggest that your bodily response to stress can impact your level of cholesterol.
You may not realize it, but your gut is filled with millions of neurons that are in constant communication with the brain. This is why you sometimes feel “butterflies” in your stomach when something makes you nervous or scared. It should come as no surprise, then, that stress can have a direct effect on how your gut functions. For example, stress can affect your gut bacteria in a way that changes your mood.
While stress does not increase acid production or elevate your risk for ulcers (contrary to popular opinion), it can make feelings of bloat, nausea, cramps, or gas more acute. And, because stress affects the speed with which food is processed through the body, it may also make it more difficult for you to have bowel movements.
Your nervous system plays a direct role in determining your body’s physical response to stress. Indeed, when your body experiences stress, it’s your autonomic nervous system that triggers “fight or flight” responses, which include most of the symptoms we’ve addressed so far.
It’s also important to note that your nervous system is what signals the adrenal glands to release both adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause the heart to beat faster, respiration rate to increase, digestive processes to shift, and more.
Finally, stress can affect the reproductive systems in both men and women. Seasons of chronic or sustained stress may result in decreased sexual desire and, in men, lowered sperm counts, which can affect reproductive ability.
Managing the Effects of Stress on the Body
As you can see, the entire human apparatus is affected by chronic stress, and the effects are never positive. It’s vital to your physical health and your emotional wellbeing to have stress management techniques in place. These might include talk therapy, regular exercise, self-care, good diet, creative outlets, and more. Additionally, CBD has been linked with stress reduction, with improved sleep, and beyond.
Here at Asé Pure Naturals, we’re big believers in CBD as a holistic stress remedy. We’d love to tell you more. Start by taking a moment to explore our inventory of natural, holistic, vegan, cruelty-free, non-GMO CBD products, all made in the USA. And if you have any questions or need a specific recommendation, contact us directly.