So look, the concept of “stress” is a really weird thing. There’s a strange sort of reverence for being ‘stressed’ in this modern world, where it’s like, unless you’re stressed, running from place to place super busy and always on the go, you’re not living your life properly. But what does being stressed actually mean for your body?
Well here we go kids, T is about to get evolutionary. There are two kinds of stress, chronic stress and acute stress. The acute stress comes from stuff like “oh man I have to chase this wooly mammoth across the plains” or “I have to get up in front of these people and give a speech.” This kind of stress is actually pretty good, it makes your body prepared mentally and physically to face the challenge ahead. It’s also called the flight or flight response, or the acute stress response. This is caused by the release of cortisol and adrenaline, and I’m sure we have all felt these feels. Increased heart rate, tunnel vision, shaking, slowed digestion (which manifests as butterflies in the tummy), dry mouth, flushed face, that kind of thing. All of these things prepare you for the perceived ‘danger’ ahead; increased heart rate means blood will be pumped to your muscles faster so you can run faster, tunnel vision means you won’t get distracted by things around you and you can focus on the task ahead, slowed digestion means your body is aiming it’s blood at other places.
Acute stress is fine, where problems arise is when your body is sending out these stress hormones constantly, or chronically. Chronic stress can impact negatively on reproduction, metabolism, growth, the immune system, behaviour and personality development. It can also result in high blood pressure and significant damage to mental health.
Now not gonna lie, chronic stressors are pretty common in the world today. Historically, the whole point of stress was to help survival, but nowadays there are stressors everywhere all day every day. The ability to cope with chronic stressors is called resilience, and it is influenced by lots of things. Every personality deals with stress differently, and issues like self-esteem and self-confidence also influence how resilient a person can be. On top of that, the persons social network, culture, behaviours and socioeconomic status influence resilience.
Physically, chronic stress is pretty bad for you in the long run. It’s important to try to not be stressed (man that’s such shitty advice haha) but what I mean is it’s important to turn off the cortisol stress response (fight or flight) and turn on the chilled out response, called the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system, or the feed and breed system. (lol). All the stuff you do when you’re not stressed (digest, sit down, breathe deeply, eat, um… other….stuff…) indicates that you’re not in a dangerous situation and can turn off the stress response.
So here I am, giving you an excuse to #treatyoself. Rest, relax, eat, sleep, watch Netflix, let go of the stressors. Your body will thank you for it.
K thanks for reading team, I hope you enjoyed! Get Learned!