How Does Stress Affect Our Physical Health?

Understanding the fight or flight response and how stress impacts physical health.

How Does Stress Affect Our Physical Health?
Photo by Olga Guryanova / Unsplash

Stress, an unavoidable aspect of life, exerts a profound influence on our physical well-being.

But, how does something intangible like stress cause tangible physical problems?

The Fight or Flight Response

When faced with a perceived threat, the brain triggers the 'fight or flight' response, prompting the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

These hormones prepare the body for immediate action.

Cardiovascular Impact

Prolonged stress can negatively affect the cardiovascular system.

Elevated stress hormone levels may increase heart rate, constrict blood vessels, and elevate blood pressure, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Gastrointestinal Effects

Often referred to as the 'second brain,' the gut reacts strongly to stress.

During stressful periods, the body diverts blood away from the digestive system to support vital functions, leading to gastrointestinal issues like stomach pain, nausea, and indigestion.

Immune System Suppression

Chronic stress weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

Additionally, stress may exacerbate inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and skin disorders.

Mental Health Interplay

The intricate relationship between stress and mental health is well-documented.

Chronic stress can contribute to anxiety and depression, which, in turn, further impact physical well-being.

Stress's impact on physical health is undeniable, underscoring the significance of effective stress management and mental health support.