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Managing Stress | The Effects of Stress on the Body

Chronic stress can affect your body in many different ways. We often fail to see the symptoms of stress because they can seem so much like a symptom of another condition. 

Stress is a powerful response. Severe and chronic exposure to stress hormones and symptoms can cause serious health problems if they are not managed. 

 

How Stress Affects Your Heart

When our body senses danger our “fight or flight” system kicks in. The hormones released, adrenaline and cortisol, increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Oxygen goes to your muscles and other emergency organs so you can fight or flight a dangerous situation. 

This is also known as stress. 

Stress is not always fight-or-flight. Today, it is most commonly talked about as a chronic problem many people are needing to deal with. 

When the “fight or flight” system fails to power down, the respiratory and cardiovascular system that powered up to protect you against danger works overtime. The long-term effects of chronic stress on your heart include heart disease and high blood pressure. 

 

How Stress Affects Your Emotions

Why am I yelling? The adrenaline and cortisol hormones that activate when stress occurs in your body are meant to be short term solutions. If your brain has too much of these hormones, your mental health could suffer. 

Your brain is looking for relief and safety. Chronic stress has been linked to emotional disorders like depression and anxiety. It can also be traced to eating disorders and obesity. 

 

How Stress Can Cause Chronic Pain Issues

Got butterflies in your stomach? That’s a normal response to stressful situations. But what if those butterflies don’t go away? What was once a motivating push to courage is now a frequent – or even constant – source of pain and discomfort. 

Adrenaline and cortisol tell your liver to release blood sugar to give your body a boost of energy – butterflies. This is helpful in a high-stress situation. However, the response becomes less helpful if your liver does not relax back to normal. 

Your digestive system works as a whole. It can handle a quick boost of blood sugar every now and then. However, an excessive amount will cause problems. 

Once your digestive system is out of tune, you are at risk for heartburn, acid reflux, an increase in stomach acid, and more serious conditions over time.

Severe chronic stress can cause unexplained muscle soreness — I didn’t work out why are my arms sore? – and headaches.