When we encounter a stressful situation in our daily lives, our natural ‘fight or flight’ reaction kicks in automatically, flooding our bodies with adrenaline to allow us to cope with the threat.
But after the moment has passed, our bodies can stay in a state of heightened alert – resulting in physical and mental health issues.
For our ancestors, it meant that they were better able to deal with threats and had more chance of surviving. Today, most of the time we don’t need to face down a predator or escape an enemy, but we still have to cope with the same stress response.
The consequences of long-term stress include an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There are consequences for our mental health too, as being stressed for a long period of time can lead to anxiety or even depression.
Read on to discover some tips for coping with stress and take our stress quiz to find out how stressed you are.
How does stress affect our bodies?
Stress can have a negative effect on our health because our bodies react to stressful situations physically as well as mentally.
Physical symptoms can include headaches, muscle pain, sleep problems, dizziness, feeling tired all the time or eating too much or too little.
When we feel stressed, our bodies release the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol plays an important role in the body as it stimulates the liver to increase blood sugar production. This gives your body a burst of energy when you feel stressed to help you cope with the situation at hand.