Are you currently dealing with a difficult situation with your family? Maybe you’re fed up with the workload you’ve been given at work? What we’re really asking is, are you stressed?
Stress is not fun and it almost never helps in any situation in today’s modern world. The body views stress as a situation or experience that can be dangerous or harmful to us. Due to this, its natural response is to release stress hormones to prime our body for the dangers ahead. This is called the fight-flight response. Why is stress so harmful?
In doing so however, these stress hormones can often have adverse effects. Maybe you’ve heard of “cortisol’, or ‘adrenaline’? If not, these are two well-known stress hormones that are released when we’re suffering from what the body believes to be a harmful situation.
Now you may be asking: ‘If the body releases these hormones to help us with the dangerous situations, how can they cause negative effects?’ Let’s break it down.
These two stress hormones are great, but only for a short period of time. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, blood pressure and overall energy in the body. Cortisol similarly increases the blood sugar levels in the body, increases memory and reduces inflammation (to name a few).
But with all of the positive effects that cortisol can help with, there must be some negative effects too. Unfortunately, the negative effects (if persistent over time) are more harmful. Cortisol suppresses the immune system, digestive system and the reproductive system.
Then vs now
As you can imagine, these two hormones would help significantly if we were running from a fierce tiger in the jungle 5000 years ago, but if you’re like most people, this will be extremely unlikely to happen in today’s age.
Stress in today’s age is often more long-term. Things like stress from work, family life, worrying about an upcoming event or even being under lots of pressure are common. This excessive worrying continues the release of the stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. As mentioned above, cortisol suppresses a lot of normal bodily functions which is great for escaping a threatening situation. But this continued release of cortisol can cause things like muscle tension, headaches, acne, weight gain, high blood pressure and difficulty concentrating, among many others.
What can stress cause?
When we’re stressed, we tense our muscles in our neck and shoulders which is the body’s way of protecting the vital organs within. A good example of who this can happen to is a desk worker. They will often have poor sitting posture, with the shoulders tense and raised, neck slumped forward. This prolonged sitting position commonly causes our neck and shoulder muscles to become tight, often inducing knots or trigger points. These can be a nagging and consistent pain. Headaches are also common specifically for stressed desk workers, but also for anyone experiencing a pressuring situation. Consult our chiropractor in Geelong if you need assistance with any of the above conditions.
So why is stress so harmful? Due to the excessive release of these stress hormones caused by extensive stressful scenarios, these hormones eventually become much less helpful, and much more harmful. Hopefully you’ve learnt a bit more about why your body gets a bit run down from stress. To find out about what you can do from a physical standpoint about stress, check out this blog post.
Book an appointment with one of our chiropractors.