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Stress and How it Hurts our Bodies

How stressed are you?
How stressed are you?

Stress has a way of messing with our bodies. A little can help make us stronger, but too much can make us sick. Even the most prepared people I know are dealing with a lot because of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Here are a few of the ways stress messes with our bodies and screws up our health. Recognize the signs so you can start dealing with it.

Stress makes muscle gains slower or non-existent. Stress can make people sad, or even cause them to fall into a depression. Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness are typical. Those negative emotions kill motivation and drive. Even if you keep exercising, you might not be putting as much into each workout. Improvement comes when you can focus your body, and your mind on being better.

Adjust what you're doing according to what's happening in your life. Don't plan a big muscle building program or body transformation if you can't get into a gym. When you do exercise, warm-up and evaluate how you feel. If the warm-up left you feeling excited and ready move, then do it. If you're still not feeling it, either focus on a short intense workout or go get more rest.

When things are in turmoil, be happy with maintaining what you have. Dealing with a new job, a move, wedding, divorce or global pandemic may not be the best times to set ambitious new goals.

Stress makes it harder to lose weight. Feelings of anxiety or worry grow as stress increases. When your mind is consumed with those negative emotions, it can be harder to rest and get a good nights sleep. In a diet study, researchers found that stress combined with less than six hours of sleep a night, cut weight-loss success in half.

Get more sleep with a plan. Turn off computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Give your mind time to unplug from the world and relax. Take your mind off your worries by indulging in a relaxing book or enjoyable magazine before you turn in.

Stress can trigger loose stool and bouts of diarrhea. Stress triggers the fight-or-flight response in people, which makes your body want to drop any excess weight in case you need to run. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis may also experience flareups.

Start fighting back with your diet. Skip food and drink that make the problem worse like dairy products or caffeinated beverages. Drink plenty of water and make sure you're getting at least 24 to 30 grams of fiber in your diet every day.

Stress makes medical problems worse. If you have a cold or flu, it can take longer to get over. Stress increases our bodies inflammation levels, so you react more severely when viruses strike.

Minor cuts and scrapes take longer to heal too. Stress pulls water away from the top layers of our skin, to keep us hydrated for the emergency our bodies believe we are going through. That lowers your skin's ability to heal.

Take just 10 minutes a day to calm and collect your thoughts. You can do it through yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or listening to soothing music. If none of those work, you can also try ASMR or autonomous sensory meridian response.

ASMR refers to a feeling of euphoric tingling or relaxation that happens when people hear a particular type of sound or watch certain videos. Videos of people doing calming things like flipping through a magazine, gently tapping, crinkling paper and playing with slime. You can go on YouTube and search for ASMR videos.

Stress makes it easier to skip workouts entirely. Those big life changes that cause stress, can also derail your exercise time. Your ability to deal with stress is directly related to your physical fitness.

Turn workouts into a priority by making them one of the first things you schedule every day. Try to fit them in earlier, so you have more energy when you go. Carry your workout clothes with you in a pre-packed bag so you're always ready when the time arises. Arrange to meet friends, (when social distancing is no longer in effect) for a workout so it's harder to cancel.

Click Here for Stress Relief Techniques - 9 Ways to Reduce Stress

Stress Response System - Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) plays a large role in how your body responds to stress. ACTH is produced in the pituitary gland, its production stimulates the production and release of cortisol from the adrenal gland. 

That causes dilation of the bronchioles (making you short of breath), makes your liver convert glycogen that's usually used for energy into glucose (which is stored as fat), increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and causes your digestive system to be less efficient leading to loose stools and diarrhea.

Stress Response System

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Updated 12/5/2020