The worst thing about stress, aside from making us feel bad are the effects of stress on health. The stress response of the body is like an airplane readying for take-off; all revved up! Virtually all systems, such as the heart and blood vessels, the immune system, the lungs, the digestive system, the sensory organs, and the brain are modified to meet the perceived situation.
Studies show that a stress-filled life raises the odds of heart disease and stroke down the road. Researchers have found that after middle-age, those who report chronic stress face a somewhat higher risk of fatal and non-fatal heart disease or stroke over the years. It is now believed that constant stress takes its toll on our arteries, causing chronically high levels of stress hormones and pushing people to maintain unhealthy habits like smoking and alcohol abuse.
Stressed-out men are twice as likely as their peers to die of a stroke. There are weaker such findings among women are actually slightly more susceptible to the effects of stress than men.
Simply put, too much stress puts you at dire risk for health problems. Whether it comes from one event or the buildup of many small events, stress causes major physical alterations that often lead to health problems. Here is a list of some of the effects of stress on our bodies:
- Our heart rates increase, to move blood to our muscles and brains.
- Our blood pressures go up.
- Our breathing rates increase.
- Our digestion slows down.
- Our perspiration increases.
Stress can often give us a rush of strength at first and can have positive effects of helping us focus and make good decisions but that is stress that is short-lasting. Chronic stress makes us feel weak over time.
These reactions that helped our ancestors survive threats by preparing for either “fight or flight,” today are not necessary in the same way.
So here it is, the awful, terrible, joy-diminishing and sometimes life-threatening effects of stress on health:
- Ulcers and digestive disorders
- Migraine headaches
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Alcohol and drug dependencies
- Allergies and skin diseases
- Depressed immune system
- More colds and infections
It is critical to our well-being that we learn ways to relieve stress because when it goes on for too long or happens too often, it literally kills us.