Are you sleeping restlessly, feeling irritable are moody, forgetting little things and feeling overwhelmed and isolated? Don’t worry we all have been there. You probably just stressed out.
Cramming for a test? Trying to get more done than you have time to do?
Stress is a feeling we all experience when we are challenged or overwhelmed. Over than just an emotion, Stress is a hardwired physical response that travels throughout your entire body. In the short term, stress can be advantageous but when activated too often or too long your primitive fight or flight stress response, not only change your brain but also damage many of the organs and cells throughout the body.
Your adrenal gland release stress-Hormone Cortisol, Epinephrine, and Norepinephrine. As these hormones travel through your bloodstream, they easily reach your blood vessels and heart. Adrenaline causes your heart to beat faster and raises your blood pressure over time causing hypertension. Cortisol can cause the endothelium or inner lining of blood vessels to not function normally. Scientists now know that this is the early step in triggering the processes of atherosclerosis or cholesterol plaque build up in your arteries. Together these changes increase your chance of a heart attack or stroke. When your brain senses stress it activates your autonomic nerves system, through this network of nerve connection, your big brain communicates stress to your enteric or intestinal nervous system. Besides causing butterflies in your stomach, this brain-gut connection can disturb the natural rhythmic contraction. That move food to your gut leading to irritable bowel syndrome and can increase your gut sensitivity to acid, making you more likely to feel heartburn. Via the gut’s nervous system stress can also change the composition and function of your gut bacteria, which may affect your digestive and overall health. Speaking of digestion, do chronic stress affect your waistline? Well, yes. Cortisol can increase your appetite, it tells your body to replenish your energy stores with energy dense foods and carbs, causing you to crave comfort foods. High levels of cortisol can also cause you to put on these extra calories as visceral or deep belly fat. This type of fat doesn’t just make it harder to button your pants, but it is the organ that actively releases hormone and immune system chemicals called cytokines, that can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart diseases and insulin resistance. Meanwhile, stress hormones affect immune cells in the variety of ways. Chronic stress can dampen function of some immune cells, making more susceptible to infection. And slow the rate of healing. Wanna a live a long life? You may have to curb your chronic stress. That’s because it has even been associated with shorter telomeres, the shoelace tip ends of chromosomes that measure a cell’s age telomere’s cap. Chromosomes to allow DNA to get copied every time a cell divides without damaging the cell’s genetic code and shorten with each cell division when telomere’s become too short, a cell no longer divides and it dies. As if all that weren’t enough, chronic stress has, even more, ways, it can sabotage your health, including
- Hair loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty of concentrating
It’s not all a bad news, though there are many ways to reverse what cortisol does to you stressed brain.The most powerful weapons are exercise and meditation. Which involved breathing deeply and being aware and focused on your surroundings. Both of these activities decrease stress and increasing the size of the hippocampus thereby increasing your memory.
Another best and most important method to reverse stress is, just the way you think about stress. So, what is all this means for you? Your life will always be filled with stressful situations, but what matters to your brain and entire body is how you respond to that stress. If you can view those situations as challenge you can control and master it. Next time when your heart pounds fast because of stress, remember that this my body helping me rise to the challenge. When you view stress in that way, your body believes you and your stress response become healthier, your pounding heart gives working so hard to gives strength and energy. The harmful effect of stress is not inevitable. How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress. When you choose your stress as helpful, you create biology of courage.