Stess-and-BodyIt can be difficult to understand the connection between the mind and the body.  How can a stressful thought give someone a cold or a stiff neck?  We’ve all heard how harmful stress can be in our lives, but the connection between our minds and bodies is often ignored.  We allow stress to affect our health the minute we forget about the body/ mind connection.

In order to remember that connection, it’s best to understand how stress truly affects our overall health.  Because realizing the truth about how stress affects your health is like getting a call to action.  It’s like a wake up call to your mind saying, ” Hey get it together up there, the rest of the body is suffering!”

Below are the details of these 6 Signs of Stress and exactly how they affect your body.

1.Lowered Immunity

Cortisol, which is created in excess within your body when you become stressed, blocks lymphocytes.  Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell which protects your body from infections and diseases.  So, if you have higher levels of cortisol from feeling stressed, your body’s immune system is compromised.  This leaves you open to colds, the flu, and other diseases that your body would naturally fight off if not battling stress.

2.Inflammation

The very same cortisol that is released in response to stress is often associated with balancing or lowering inflammation.  However, when there is an imbalance or prolonged exposure to cortisol, the body can become resistant to it and not respond appropriately to inflammation.  If you’ve noticed swelling in your muscles, this could be the case.

3.Weight gain

Cortisol may affect your appetite and cravings.  It can also create high blood glucose levels.  This is all due to that fact that cortisol is secreted from your adrenal glands to respond to the fight or flight response when you are stressed.  And the body needs to find the energy to flee or fight.  That energy is sapped from glucose, that thing you make when you’re eating those yummy carbs and starches.  But once that sugar energy is depleted, your body will signal for more.

This creates a cycle of eating quickly available sugar that your body thinks it needs for energy during high stress times.  Cortisol also moves fat around in the body to use as energy, but because we are responding to imagined danger, we aren’t phsyically using that energy.  The excess becomes deposited into the abdomen.

4.Digestive Issues

Ulcers, that nervous tummy, and irritable bowel syndrome are a few things that are related to stress.  Cortisol triggered during stress, activates your sympathetic nervous system.  That part of your nervous system basically controls all those dreaded signs of panic and anxiety; the elevated heart rate, tense muscles, warm flush…

The parasypmathetic nervous system is responsible for, you guessed it, regulating digestion and calming the body among other things.  These systems are triggered involuntarily for the most part and are made to work together.  But if there is an imbalance in your sympathetic system you will notice one in your parasympathetic system.

5.Muscle Tension & Spinal Subluxation

If you’ve noticed muscle tension in your neck or back, it may be related to the effect stress has on the muscles and the spine. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body’s reaction to potential emergencies.  It is located along the spine in the thoracic and lumbar areas.  Over time, the repeated activation of this part of your nervous system can lead to muscle tension and misalignment in the spine.

To put it into more technical terms:

“Psychological Stress and allostatic overload can create an imbalance with our nervous system.  The Sympathetic overpowers the Parasympathetic part of our Autonomic Nervous system.  Chiropractic Manipulation to different regions of the spine can affect the way your brain and body communicate to return to homeostasis. ” Dr. Gerard V. Rosato

This is my personal, super friendly and knowledgeable Chiropractor.  My panic attacks triggered by feeling a numbness in my arm disappeared after his adjustments, along with the numbness. Click here for more info.

6.High Blood Pressure & Headaches

You don’t need to have high blood pressure to experience headaches or migraines.  However , they are linked.  When you feel stressed, your blood flow increases in response.  This sudden rush of blood causes pressure within your blood vessels and this includes the ones surrounding your brain.  When they get very full, they expand and press against the nerves that signal pain.  Because our bodies depend on the oxygen, nutrients, and steady pace of our hearts pumping, it’s important that our blood flows smoothly.  When you experience stress, there is spike in blood flow and over time this can lead to more serious brain and heart conditions.

Now-Breathe

Well, that was a lot of information that in itself could cause some stress!  So just take a moment to breathe right now.

I didn’t create this list to point out how doomed you are when you experience stress.  Not at all!  I created this to wake you up to the fact that your body is responding to your thoughts.  All these symptoms of stress are produced and not produced by your own negative or positive thought processes.  And there is hope because YOU ultimately control your thoughts! 

How you handle stress starts with your perception of it.  And your perceptions, your thoughts, your mental programs, can be reprogrammed to respond in a way that works for you and your body!

If you’d like my personal help shifting and changing how you perceive stress, click here to contact me for a session.  I use NLP (neurolinguistic programming) to change the way you perceive stress and Hypnosis to trigger a state of calm that you need when dealing with your stressful thoughts.

In addition to NLP and hypnosis, journaling, deep breathing, tai chi, chiropractic, massage, exercise, meditation, visualization, therapy, and tapping are all methods that can manage stress.

I’m not a doctor and I don’t claim to know everything about our body’s response to stress.  However, I do know for a fact that how you mentally cope with stress will guarantee either positive or negative physical results.  It is within your control!

 

*Here are a few links below to sites that explain what I’ve touched on in more technical terms and detail.*

Adrenal Fatigue and Immune System

Physiology and Cortisol

Cortisol How to Stay Healthy

Cortisol’s role in inflammation

Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous system 

Cortisol and Weight Gain

Scientific American Headaches