Stress is a way your body responds to ay kind of demand, such as you challenging yourself or being overwhelmed with something. But it can be caused by a bad as well as good experiences.
If you are having a bad day, night or whatever you may want to remind yourself that stress affects everyone, believe me! Some of us can deal with it lighter, some - heavier, but we all have stress about something.
But you should keep in mind that stress is not just bad. Some of them keep us going, some keep us concentrating, some even help us to perform! Not so bad at all, huh?
While some stress is good, long-term stress is really bad for our health - body, and mind. You can even develop health problems. When the stress becomes chronical it can seriously harm you!
But we all are very different thus we feel stress in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger or irritability. People who suffer from chronic stress are more prone to the flu or cold.
How chronic stress affects your body
Chronic stress impacts your body in all ways, except good ones. There are many stress related symptoms, they are of course different for everyone individually, but you may even have no idea that your sickness or a headache is from the chronic stress.
Chronic stress can make it harder or impossible to sleep normally!
High stress may be a cause for absent or irregular menstrual cycles, more painful periods and changes in your cycle.
It can be the reason for heavy PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), as well, wich means that you would feel much worse before you period and your hormonal disbalance could really really affect your emotions in a bad way.
Stress may reduce sexual desire, it may simply keep your mind busy even in the most intimate situations, we wouldn't want stress to affect our romantic evenings or even baby dances, right?
Menopause is also associated with anxiety, mood swings and feelings of distress, it can be a stressful phase of its own. Some of the physical changes, especially hot flashes can be difficult to cope with, stress may cause the physical symptoms to be worse.
When you are stressed your body distributes stress hormones - cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine, cortisol is good, in short- terms, but when your body receives it in long term or too often it can seriously harm you. Adrenaline makes your heart beat faster, and in long term, it can damage your heart and this may even increase your chances of a heart attack.
When your brain feels stress it can give the signal to your stomach and you may feel burning in stomach, your brain becomes more alert to sensations in your stomach. Your stomach can react with "butterflies" or even nausea or pain. And, if the stress becomes chronic, you may develop ulcers or severe stomach pain, even gastritis.
Chronic stress can also ( and not that rare) impact your weight. When you are stressed you are more likely to want carbs and junk food rather than salads and fruits. People tend to go for "comfort foods" because when your body makes cortisol, it also increases your appetite.
Chronic stress influences every system of your body differently and in many ways and many combinations. So even if you have on or two of these symptoms it is not 100% because of stress, everyone's body is different.
How chronic stress affects your brain
When you feel stress day by day, more often than you should or constantly it actually can change some chemical processes in your brain making it much harder to do usual things, such as learning, concentrating, making judgments e.t.c
Cortisol can affect your brain function and even size(literally your brain would shrink in size) and structure! As levels of cortisol rise, your ability to learn, memorizing, social interaction and stress control decreases. The more you are stressing, the worst you will feel about it!
Studies show that when you’re stressed, electrical signals in the brain associated with memories weaken while areas in the brain associated with emotions strengthen, that means that your memory is getting worse and you are getting more emotional while hysterical about everything.
Stress also puts you up to greater risk of mental illness of any kind. Chronic stress can be a cause of more serious mental problems such as depression, anxiety, vegetative dystonia and eventually Alzheimer's.
What happens to the fetus if you have chronic stress
If you are constantly stressed while pregnant you distribute stress hormones. They get into baby's brain centers and create a state of unhappiness which is being set for a life.
The increased cortisol and adrenalin in the blood circulation of the developing baby may cause a low activity in baby's brain centers which are responsible for joy, happiness, and curiosity.
Children who have come out of stressful pregnancies may be more aggressive, depressed, more violent, cry a lot, poor self-confidence e.t.c
But remember! We all have bad days. Don't let this worry you. Occasional stress or bad days won't have any lasting effects on your baby.
How to deal with stress
After a long day at work, the last thing you may want to do is to clean house. But scientists have shown that doing repetitive tasks helps you to relax and afterward get a better focus. So instead of eating junk food and watching tv, you may actually want to vacuum your house, wash your dishes or do a bit of a laundry. + if you do small tasks every workday you can take you cleaning weekend day off and go for a day by nature! win-win
After you have cleaned the house or done some small and easy daily task you should clean yourself! yap! A long bath or a facial mask is so nice and relaxing! Go and indulge yourself! You deserve it! Make some fruit Smoothie(do not let that cortisol made junk food cravings to affect you), get your facial mask, two cucumber slices, and take a long nice bath while listening to some nature sounds or spa music (you can find that in youtube).
If your stress is keeping you away from that well needed beauty sleep try to make some sleep rituals or sleeping tea such as Burmess sleeping tea. It will relax you, make you feel cozy, warm and it is also natural and tasty! There is also a mixture of herbs that will help you to fall asleep.
Yoga and meditation is a great stress reliever! It may lessen your stress, calm you, even put your thoughts in order. Meditation is great for itself, making you let go of thoughts and things and stresses, leaving you only with yourself. In silent. It will also focus your mind and help you get rid of that terrible cortisol.
Almost the same as exercise. Exercise will help your body more directly. If you would go outside for jog you could get a vitamin D, breath natural air AND help your stress. Just remember to leave your phone at home, so it wouldn't disturb you.
Last but not least is breathing techniques. Breathing in and out while counting to 10 is a great stress reliever in urgent situations. It sounds silly, but once you will get used to it you are going to love it! Works wonders! Jus find the right technique for you!
Best wishes, Eva