One of the reasons why we´re dealing with many different health and mental problems nowadays is stress.
A very simple explanation about how stress makes us sick is this, stress is a survival mechanism, it´s the “fight-or-flight” response to keep us alive when we are in danger. When we are in a stressful situation our body releases cortisol which is the hormone that turns on the “fight-or-flight” response and with this it comes a series of reactions like heart rate goes up, our muscles get tense but while this reactions of cortisol are on, other functions of our body are turned off, so our body can´t protect us from diseases. So if we spend most of our time with stress, this means that cortisol is high along with all the reactions and some functions in our body are off most of the time and it can´t protect us from diseases so we get sick.
Some of the symptoms we can notice in a short period of time are constant headaches, our weight fluctuates, we have skin problems, our hair falls, inflammation, we feel tired almost all the time, it´s impossible to focus and finish any activity. Things can get worse and cause more problems like obesity, diabetes, cancer, depression, anxiety, suicide.
It also has a negative impact on your hormones making it harder for us to have good quality sleep and making us eat more specially unhealthy foods. High levels of stress increase cortisol which can lead to craving sweets and refined carbohydrates, this is a reason why it´s harder to avoid junk and processed food, this is why if we are following a weight loss program we can´t stick to it.
Cortisol also cause insulin resistance which means that our body is not able to utilize carbohydrates properly so our body stores them as fat instead of using them for energy. Being insulin resistant makes it harder for us to lose weight and stay lean.
Stress can also affect your mood getting us in a negative state of mind and making everything seems worst, we tend to over think, and make our worries and fears bigger because it triggers an area called the amygdala which is our brains fear center. It also makes us more emotional because our brain associate events with memories. Stress lower serotonin which is the “feel happy” neurotransmitter and dopamine which is the one for pleasure-reward so we feel sad.
Stress has become part of our days for most of us and we´ve learnt to live with it without realizing all the damage it is causing on all aspects of life, from health to relationships. From school, job, traffic, unhealthy diets, lack of sleep, a lot of negativity all this accumulate over and over every single day causing chronic stress and it affects the body and the brain.
Trying to satisfy and please everyone also increase stress, doing something we hate and dealing with negative people and many other stuff we live every single day are also causing a lot of damage to our body and brain.
For the last years we´ve been hearing a lot more about mental health and all the negative aspects about depression, anxiety and other problems but I don´t see them taking action to improve the environments we work and the relationships with people around us which have a huge impact.
Another important reasons why stress is making us sick is because we believe that all stress is bad and it can makes us sick, that´s what we´ve been told and our brain and body will respond to that belief but it´s not true. Some stress is good and we need some of that good stress. If we change our thoughts and beliefs about stress, if we know how to identify the good stress between the bad one and we know how to respond to it, it can be beneficial.
For me it´s clear that our lifestyles are causing a lot of health and mental problems so it´s crucial to start developing good habits that help us live better.
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