Stress in a Women's Body

Stress. The word alone is enough to stress you out. We try to avoid it but it always finds a way to creep back up into our lives. Family, kids, work, school, friends, relationships can all be causes of our stress. But what really happens when we are stressed? Here is the affect that stress has on your body and what you can do to lower stress. 

Stress and the Brain

When we are under stress the hypothalamus section of the brain signals the ANS and our pituitary gland to release two stress hormones. These stress hormones are cortisol and epinephrines. Excessive amounts of cortisol can interfere with your ability to learn and your memory. It is also linked to fat storage. High levels of this stress hormone have also been shown to increase the risk of mental illness. 

Related: Daily Habits that Will Improve Health and Reduce Stress

Stress and the Cardiovascular System

People with high levels of stress increase their chances of a heart attack, hypertension and stroke. One study of white collar women workers showed that increase stress from work increased the thickness of the carotid artery which was a early sign of heart disease. 

Stress, Muscles and the Respritory System

Stress has negative effect on the respiratory system as it can lead to labored breathing, asthma attacks, rapid breathing and panic attacks. Stress also causes increased muscle tension and can lead to chronic musculoskeletal pain. Some muscle tension can be so severe that leads to atrophy. 

Stress and Our Liver and Digestive System

During periods of high stress the liver secretes increased glucose. In some populations the extra sugar in the blood can cause diabetes. We often respond to stress be overeating which can cause heartburn and acid reflux in the digestive tract. Stress can be severe enough that it causes nausea and stomach pains which can even lead to constipation or diarrhea. 

Stress and the Reproductive System

High levels of stress can also mess with our reproductive health. It can lead to missed periods, cramping, or even longer periods. Stress can delay ovulation which can affect fertility. Stress can also make PMS symptoms like cramping, bloating, and mood swings more severe. 

Reducing Stress Levels

Stress is unavoidable but there are ways that we can limit or reduce stress in our lives. One way to reduce stress is to practice activities that reduces stress. These include making time for a walk outside, moderate sun exposure, nature hike, massage, deep breathing, yoga and slow stretching, or drinking green tea. Yoga is especially effective at reducing stress. With yoga you get deep breathing exercises as well as a good workout that improves flexibility and strengthens your core. At-home yoga sessions can be a quick fix to a stressful day.