How Stress Can Harm You

Picture it.

You’re stranded in a traffic jam and you’re already late for a meeting at work and all you can do is just sit there and watch the minutes tick away. It’s not a great situation to be in. As you are sitting there, your body goes through a change: your hypothalamus, which is located in your brain, triggers the body’s do or die response and begins to prepare you for quick action. But if you cannot act, think of all the additional stress piling up? That’s what builds up in our daily lives day to day and puts our hearts to increased risks over time.


I will be the first one to tell you that if you don’t take care of stress, it will take care of you. We cannot eliminate stress completely from our lives as it goes with the territory of living. We all experience it, from death of loved ones, family strife, whatever. But it is how we deal with is that affects our health. If you want to live a better life, it is better to learn how to deal with it effectively. Over time, you can teach your body how to react to stress and I have noticed that my breathing and heart rates adjust as I strive to keep additional stress at bay. What I know from experience is that if stress levels remain elevated, your health will be adversely affected.

Symptoms of ongoing stress can include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Depression

Central Nervous and Endocrine Systems

I am sure you are familiar with the body’s fight or flight mode that switches on when your body demands quick reaction. In essence, it is blood rushing to the areas it may need in an emergency for quick release. When triggered, your body is basically working overtime and once those stressors leave, your hypothalamus will reduce the release of these endorphins. Chronic stress can also play a part in behaviors like drug and/or alcohol abuse, bulimia or overeating, and also social withdrawal.  

Respiratory, Cardiovascular Systems

These systems can be adversely affected by stress hormones. When you are reacting to stress, you heart rate accelerates and you end up breathing faster to release blood throughout the body. If you suffer from asthma, stress can make it even more difficult to breathe. When we are under stress, the heart pumps blood quicker, with stress hormones causing vessels to ship more oxygen to muscles. This will also raise the blood pressure and cause stress if the heart must work for a longer period of time. As the blood pressure elevates, so do risks of heart attack or stroke.

Digestive System

digestive system

When you are under duress, the liver will produce extra glucose (blood sugar) to provide a boost of energy. Excessive amounts of stress can increase the risk of having type 2 diabetes. Although stress doesn’t lead to ulcers, it can significantly increase the risk of having them, which can cause constipation and diarrhea.