Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Body and Soul Maintenance: Stress and our Bodies

Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses-WebMD

That doesn't sound so bad, right? Well in most cases "stress" is not bad for us.  In fact, the human body is designed to handle stress and react to it.  Think of our very distant ancestors.  Their body's reaction to stress saved them on multiple occasions from wild animal attacks and dangerous situations.  Here is why:

When your body is exposed to a stressor your nervous system releases specific stress hormones. Your hypothalamus signals your adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol.  Your heart rate speeds, your breathing gets heavier, your blood pressure rises and your metabolism kicks in.  More blood is sent to your muscles in preparation to react.  Your pupils dilate making your vision more acute. Your liver releases stored glucose for energy and sweat helps to cool your body. You are ready to GO and at your peak performance level!

Again, not so bad right?  Stress becomes a problem for our bodies when it is constant.  When our body doesn't take breaks from this process it gets worn down leaving us vulnerable to many other issues.

Below is a list of possible symptoms and reactions to chronic constant stress on a human body:
 (taken from the American Institute of Stress's Website)
  • frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
  • gritting, grinding teeth
  • stuttering or stammering
  • tremors, trembling of lips, hands
  • neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
  • light headedness, faintness, dizziness
  • ringing, buzzing, or popping sounds
  • frequent blushing, sweating
  • cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • dry mouth, problems swallowing
  • frequent colds, infections, herpes
  • rashes, itching, hives, "goose bumps"
  • unexplained or frequent "allergy" attacks
  • heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
  • excessive belching, gas
  • constipation,diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing, sighing
  • sudden panic attacks
  • frequent urination
  • poor sexual desire or performance
  • excessive anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
  • increased anger, frustration, hostility
  • depression, frequent, or wild mood swings
  • increased or decreased appetite
  • insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
  • difficulty concentrating,racing thoughts
  • trouble learning new information
  • forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
  • difficulty in making decisions
  • feeling overloaded or overwhelmed
  • frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
  • feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
  • little interest in appearance or punctuality
  • nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping
  • increased frustration, irritability, edginess
  • over-reaction to petty annoyances
  • increased number of minor accidents
  • obsessive or compulsive behavior
  • reduced work efficiency or productivity
  • lies or excuses to cover up poor work
  • rapid or mumbled speech
  • excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness
  • problems with communication or sharing
  • social withdraw and isolation
  • constant tiredness, weakness,fatigue
  • frequent use of over the counter drugs
  • weight gain or loss without dieting
  • increased smoking, alcohol or drug use
  • excessive gambling or impulse buying
AGHHH!  Did you get as sick of reading those as I did typing them?  And that list is in no way a comprehensive list. Think about it how many of those symptoms also fit the bill for major physical and mental illness that people are medically treated for on a daily basis.
NOTE: Women are twice as susceptible to stress overload then men.  That is why it is essential for women to care for their bodies on a REGULAR basis.  Come on ladies...stress management is just as important (more in my opinion) as beauty management so maybe next time you head out for that toxic mani-pedi you can get a relaxing essential oil massage instead.

Stay tuned for stress management advice, tips and techniques!

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