We all know and have probably been told at one point or another how bad stress can be on our body. But just how much do we really know about the effects of stress on our bodies, and do we really understand the reasons why these things happen? 

To improve our overall health and well-being in Manhattan, NY, it is important to understand why stress affects us and find ways we can help minimize or even eliminate these effects.

Our Survival Mechanism

First of all, stress is our survival mechanism, and it is the way we react to psychological or physical threats around us. If we feel that we are in any kind of danger in Manhattan our body will tell our nervous system to kick in, and we become defensive. Our stress responses are immediately activated, and we go into the fight or flight response.

Stress is what allows us to face the challenges of danger. Normal responses to stress can even make us more alert and quicker than usual. However, we don’t always find ourselves faced with this kind of danger, and when that is the case, the stress we experience can instead cause us health issues.

When our bodies face prolonged stress, our brains tell us to get ready for emergency actions by:

  • Allowing our nervous and endocrine systems to respond by releasing excess stress hormones. Cortisol and adrenaline are the two most common stress hormones, and these have the ability to speed up our heart rate and even suppress our immune system.
  • The musculoskeletal system is what causes our muscles to contract. When not actually in danger, this action can cause tension headaches.
  • Rapid breathing is due to the respiratory system making sure that the muscles in our body are receiving enough oxygen to function. This can also lead to hyperventilation and panic attacks.
  • Our blood vessels in the cardiovascular system begin to dilate with prolonged stress which can then lead to our coronary arteries becoming inflamed. This action can also trigger a heart attack.
  • Finally, we may also begin to crave sugary and fatty foods because of our gastrointestinal system. This can boost energy levels temporarily, but can also irritate our stomach.

Effects of Prolonged Stress

Stress affects everyone differently in Manhattan, NY, but exposing yourself to prolonged stress can cause your brain to rewire which can lead to improved risk of depression and anxiety. Prolonged stress can also negatively affect our memories, learning abilities, and can cause us to behave impulsively. 

The longer we allow our bodies to remain stressed, the harder it is going to be to go back into a neutral state  also known as homeostasis.

Preventing Stress

To prevent undue stress, there are several things we can do. For example, avoiding stress triggers is important as well as being able to identify what these triggers are. We can then learn how to alter our current, stressful situations and find better ways to deal with the stress and cope. 

We also need to understand that we have to accept what is beyond our control and instead reframe the way we think about our stressors and find solutions rather than internalizing them.