How stress impacts our health
Stress is often regarded as a negative experience in our daily lives.
While the presence of short-term or acute stress is a natural part of the human experience, individuals experiencing chronic stress are at risk for developing other conditions. When the brain perceives a stress trigger it sends a message to the adrenal glands to release cortisol (the stress hormone). Cortisol acts on the body by preparing it to either fight or fly from the threat; breathing becomes shallow and quick, heart rate increases, resources are redirected to the limbs in order to help the individual defend themselves, digestion and other hormones responsible for growth and reproduction are temporarily halted. Long-term, unmanaged stress can trigger or worsen acid reflux and other digestive issues (constipation, diarrhea), negatively affect metabolism and lead to fat gain especially around the waist, impinge upon restful sleep (which also leads to weight/fat gain), and worsen mood symptoms. The presence of cortisol also has a negative effect on the production of sex hormones; individuals may experience a decrease in libido or altered menstrual cycles.