Stress is good. Or at least a little stress can be.
Stress helped our ancestors escape from danger and react quickly, but in our modern life it just wears us down from the inside out. Read these 11 ways stress hurts your body, then find out how to keep stress under control.
1. Stress causes your body to release "stress hormones"
Whether your brain senses danger or something else that requires your attention, it starts pumping out hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These substances have a lot of different effects on your body. While they help you focus and work hard in the short term, they wreak havoc on your body over time.
2. Stress raises your heartbeat
One of the first reactions your body has to the stress hormones is telling your heart to pump more oxygen-enriched blood. While this might come in handy in a basketball game, the effort of keeping your heart pumping fast throughout the day takes energy away from the rest of your body and tires you out.
3. Stress raises your blood pressure
With your heart pumping faster and more pressure in your bloodstream, it's no wonder stress is one of the causes for heart attacks and strokes. Cortisol also affects your artery walls, clogging them with plaque and leading to conditions ranging from hypertension to heart attacks.
4. Stress interferes with your sleep schedule
If you notice you have a hard time falling asleep when you're stressed, it's probably because your heart is still pumping hard. Cortisol also keeps you feeling wakeful, which interferes with your sleep schedule.
Stress hormones also force your body to put repairing cells on the back burner, so your body recovers from injuries and illnesses more slowly.
5. Stress makes you sick
Speaking of illnesses, your body's immune system becomes less of a priority when you're dealing with stress, which makes you vulnerable to all sorts of conditions.
6. Stress damages your digestive system
Stress is one of the causes of IBS, because stress hormones affect your intestinal nervous system, which moves food from place to place in your stomach. It can also lead to constipation, or even cause heartburn by making your gut more sensitive to stomach acid.
Stress is also known to kill the good bacteria in your gut.