Why does stress do weird things to your body?

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Why does stress do weird things to your body?

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Stress triggers our fight or flight response which sends adrenaline and cortisol pumping through our bodies. These chemicals are actually dangerous in high amounts or prolonged exposure. So in a way toxic stress is quite like poisioning yourself.

Stress is a reaction to threatening and important situations. In modern times, we have more of a constant, lower stress level, instead of having short, stronger bursts. Your body reacts because the hypothalamus tells you to release specific hormones. These can raise your blood pressure, affect your breathing, and make your body disperse energy differently. It refocuses your energy to the most important processes, like thought and muscle use, which is helpful in threatening situations. This takes energy away from other body processes, but ones that are equally essential in the long term, so long term stress can do things like messing with your immune system, digestion, heart health, etc.

Stress hormones also cause a constant state of imbalance, because they aren’t supposed to be in your body for long periods of time. Your body can work hard to produce large amount of other hormones, to try to rebalance you, but it will eventually burn out, which leaves you a wreck. Stress relieving activities, like light sports, are important because they help your body restore balance by more naturally increasing non-stress hormones, and keeping your body moving helps process and dispose of the extra stress hormones.

in order to deal with short time stress our body suppresses other functions while tackling the problem. such as immune system, and the digestive system (things that aren’t necessary for immediate survival) that’s why you may not feel hungry while cramming work. On the other hand functions like the heart and blood vessels are given immediate attention. Your heart beats faster, blood vessels are pumping with blood, your muscles are getting pumped, your memory and attention is also heightened.

this is all because of the “fight or flight” response, your body is getting ready to fight off the threat or run away. this is all harmless as it’s usually only for a short period of time. However chronic stress and prolonged stress is what really harms the body.

I really rec “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Robert Sapolsly if you’re interested in how stress influences our health.