Stress is a normal part of everyday life. However, overexposure to stress can put a lot of pressure on your body resulting in a myriad of different health issues. From stomach aches to insomnia, stress manifests itself in a wide variety of forms. This infographic from Study Medicine Europe explores the science of stress and highlights the many different ways in which it can affect our physical health.
What Happens in Your Brain When You Feel Stressed?
When we feel stress, the brain activates a stress response. This pumps the body full of hormones which then trigger the “flight or fight” response. This “emergency state” produces a number of changes in your body, including:
- Faster heart beats that push blood to the muscles, heart, and other vital organs
- Rapid breathing to take in as much oxygen as possible
- Extra oxygen is sent to the brain, increasing sensory alertness
- Blood sugar and fats flood into the bloodstream to energise all body parts
Following this initial surge, the brain releases cortisol – a.k.a. the “stress” hormone. This can briefly modify or shut down functions that get in the way of survival, such as your digestive or immune systems or even your growth processes. Current research suggests that the physical symptoms of stress are caused by the stress response which diverts attention away from normal bodily functions.
Keeping Stress At Bay
Studies reveal that chronic stress can elevate the risk of many different health conditions such as heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. In order to stay healthy, therefore, it’s crucial to learn effective stress management techniques. Everyone will have their own way of doing this, however, some suggested methods include:
- Making healthy lifestyle changes (e.g. adopting a regular sleep schedule, eating healthily, or doing more exercise)
- Seeking professional help
- Practising mindful meditation
To learn more about the negative health impact of stress, take a look at the infographic guide below.