INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center
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Ways You May Not Have Realized Stress Affects Your Body
Whenever you start
feeling not like yourself,
it can be maddening
to figure out the root
of the problem. Is it
a viral infection? Is it
a bug going around
the community? Is it
poor sleeping habits?
Am I just getting old?
These are some of the
common issues that
may ruminate in your
Sometimes, none of
those questions apply.
Instead, stress is the
culprit. We'll highlight
some common areas
that stress can directly
or indirectly impact, as
well as how stress can
affect your immune
Understanding stress
Stress happens
every day. Without
you even knowing it,
your brain is constantly
shuffling through
thoughts, feelings
and interactions.
On average, those
thoughts and feelings
will lead to at least 45
daily negative stress
When you're
stressed, these
emotions activate
fight-or-flight reactions
such as fear or worry.
Your adrenal glands
then release hormones,
such as cortisol and
adrenaline, as a
protective mechanism
to deal with whatever
the perceived threat
is. The result is a spike
in heart rate, blood
pressure and the
production of glucose
in your bloodstream.
These reactions
aren't always negative.
They can help alert you
of certain situations
that need attention.
Once your body
processes the stressor
or threat, the hormones
return to normal levels.
Effects of stress on
your body
The tell-tale signs
of stress tend to be
sweaty palms, a rapid
increase in heart rate
and a noticeable
increase in alertness.
Beyond that, stress also
affects several other
body parts and bodily
Aches and pains
Have you ever been
stressed out and heard
someone tell you to
loosen up? Stress
causes your muscles
to tighten up to protect
you from injury. You'll
often feel this tightness
in your back, head and
neck - which may be
why you experience
persistent headaches
from stress.
Breathing issues
Stress can impact
your breathing by
speeding up respiratory
function to cause
shortness of breath or
Cardiovascular health
When under stress,
your brain produces
chemical messengers
that instruct your blood
vessels to pump more
blood to vital organs.
Chronic stress can put
you more at risk for
hypertension, stroke or
heart attack.
Pigment loss in hair
At some point
growing up, you
may have heard your
parents say your
behavior was stressful
enough to make their
hair turn gray. Turns
out they were on to
something. When
stress hits, nerves
in your hair follicles
release hormones
that force pigment
cells from the hair.
Eventually, your hair
turns grays since there
are no pigment cells
left to give the hair its
natural color.
Diet and appetite
That upset stomach
you feel may not be
from the lunch you
ate. Stress can cause
several stomach
issues, such as nausea
and bloating. Stress
can also disrupt your
gut bacteria, which
explains the butterfly
feeling you get when
you're nervous. An
upset stomach tends
to cause disinterest
in food, which affects
your diet and appetite.
Conversely, there's a
correlation between
stress and mood, and a
depressed mood could
result in poor food
choices in an attempt
to make yourself feel
Digestive system
It's no coincidence
stress or anxiety can
make you go to the
bathroom more. During
stressful situations,
the speed at which
your digestive tract
processes food and
waste can increase and
lead to diarrhea. Stress
hormones may also
release inflammatory
markers that cause your
bowels to contract,
leading to constipation.
More prone to illnesses
The body is so intent
on reacting to stress it
can leave your immune
system prone to illness.
In other words, it can
get too depleted and
struggle to defend
against viral or bacterial
infections. The cortisol
produced during stress
reactions can decrease
your lymphocytes,
important white blood
cells your immune
system uses to fend off
foreign invaders.
Ways to manage stress
The easiest way to
manage stress is to
immerse yourself in
activities that reduce
thoughts and feelings.
For starters,
incorporate regular
exercise into your
weekly routine. This
can be as simple as
taking a stroll around
your neighborhood.
Disconnecting from
the world - and your
smartphone - can do
wonders for your state
of mind.
You can also
add positive
affirmations, or positive
self-talk, to your
routine. Take a piece of
paper and write down
personal statements
you can think about or
say aloud several times
a day. As an example,
you may say "Today
will be a good day. I will
focus on the things I can
control and won't stress
about the things I can't
Controlling what
you can applies most
to these next few tips.
Establish a regular
sleep schedule to stay
rested. Avoid smoking
and excessive alcohol
intake. Fuel your body
with fruits, vegetables
and healthful proteins
that contain beneficial
vitamins and minerals.
When to get help for
Stress is a normal part
of dealing with what
everyday life throws
at you. But stress can
complicate things when
it becomes chronic. As
outlined above, repeated
stress can lead to many
future health problems.
If you feel like you're
losing control or have
issues getting through
the day and typical tasks,
contact your primary
care physician to discuss
ways to reduce your
stress. Your doctor may
refer you to a mental
health provider to
provide further
INTEGRIS Health Welcomes
George Hudson, D.O. and Hayley Hudson D.O.
- Hypertension - Headaches - Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine - Depression/anxiety
620 S. Madison St., Suite 203 - Enid, OK 73701
- Fax 580-548-1590

- Pediatrics - Women's health - Acute care - Geriatrics - Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine
401 S. 3rd, 2nd Floor - Enid, OK 73701
- Fax 580-237-1925

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