Can stress and worry affect your health?
Do you often worry about things? Worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. Let me explain how and why that can happen.
The autonomic nervous system
Our bodies have an autonomic nervous system which regulates bodily functions such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, etc. The autonomic nervous system has separate branches, one is called the sympathetic nervous system and is often called the “fight or flight” system. Another branch is called the parasympathetic nervous system, which is often called the “rest and digest” system.
Turning systems “on and off”
In many cases, both of these systems have opposite actions where one system activates a physiological response and the other inhibits it.
In other words, our bodies are designed to naturally take care of things like our digestion and immune system to keep us nourished and healthy, but during times of an emergency, the body puts those things on hold in order to direct energy into more important things like the ability to run away from danger right now.
Our bodies produce a stress hormone called cortisol, which is like a built -in alarm. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. It accelerates heartbeat, increases blood sugar, and alters other body systems to prepare your body to respond to the danger. When your body is on high alert, cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. These might include your digestive or reproductive systems, your immune system, or even your growth processes.
After the danger has passed, then your cortisol level should calm down and your heart, blood pressure, and other body systems will get back to normal. This is a wonderful, natural, and automatic process designed to help keep us safe, and to be able to quickly respond to danger.
Chronic worry and stress
However, when we keep our bodies constantly in the “fight or flight” response with worry and stress, it can negatively affect virtually every organ system in the body. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Prolonged stress has been shown to cause numerous health problems including:
- Anxiety and depression
- Heart disease
- Memory and concentration problems
- Problems with digestion
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight gain
- Weakening of the immune system, making you more likely to have colds or other infections
- High blood pressure
- Upset stomach, ulcers and acid reflux
- Increased rapid heart beat and heart palpitations
- Panic attacks
- Cardio-vascular problems
- Increase in blood sugar levels
- Irritable bowel problems
- Tension headaches or migraines
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Respiratory problems and heavy breathing
- Worsening of skin conditions, such as eczema
How do I reduce worry and stress?
Reducing worry and stress in our lives improves our physical, mental, and emotional health. There are many simple things that we can do to reduce worry and stress such as following the Hope for Healing program and utilizing the emotional wellness tools found in the Hope for Healing emotional first aid kit.
Learn more about ways to reduce worry and stress and improve your physical, mental and emotional health and to increase peace and joy in your life.
Hope for Healing Program
We empower people to upgrade the way that they think and feel.
The Hope for Healing Program is a simple, easy-to-follow system that can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety; relieve stress; build confidence and self-esteem; and heal relatioships.
Emotional First Aid Kit
An emotional first aid kit can provide an immediate, although temporary, positive effect on the way we think and feel. Having an emotional first aid kit readily available can help people who are struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, low self esteem, or other mental and emotional issues.