How the Body Handles Stress


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How the Body Handles Stress

The body handles stress in much the same way as it handles danger and there are three stages to this.

Fight or flight stage
Any danger or stress triggers the release of adrenaline and other hormones into the blood stream and it is these hormones that enable the body to defend itself. Breathing and the heart rate increase and blood pressure rises pumping more blood to the muscles so that they are ready for action. This is when the blood sugars rise. If the stress is eliminated at this stage, then the body relaxes and goes back to normal.

Resistance stage
Some stressful situations cannot be eliminated at the fight and flight stage, for example a job you hate or deteriorating health. At this stage the stress becomes chronic. The body continues to fight the stress by releasing high levels of the stress hormones even though the fight and flight responses have worn off and breathing and the heart rate may be normal. This is when symptoms appear, such as anxiety attacks and/or mood swings – feeling of being ‘stressed out’.

Exhaustion stage
This stage occurs when the effects of chronic stress affect health. The immune system does not work as efficiently making people vulnerable to infections. The continual long-term fight against stress reduces the body’s energy stores so that there is fatigue. This may be followed by depression, sleeplessness and poor appetite. This is when blood sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol levels may become more difficult to control and there is a risk of heart attack.