Stress is an invisible enemy. It’s not palpable, really, but it’s oh-so-harmful. It can wreck your day, it can rob you of your sleep and appetite, and it can take the joy out of living. When we encounter some sort of danger, be it real or imagined, our body gets ready to protect our very existence by operating on full cylinders, getting ready to fight or flight. Needless to say, this requires a lot of resources and can be very taxing on your body, particularly when you’re exposed to stress for a prolonged period of time.
One of the ways in which our body reacts to stress is adrenaline, a hormone that is released when we are experiencing intense emotions. A neurotransmitter, it is meant to facilitate that fight-or-flight response by preparing your body to do just that, fight or run away. It dilates your blood vessels to allow for a faster blood flow. Blood supply to the muscles increases, along with the heart rate and heart output, while blood supply to the skin, stomach, gut, and bladder decreases in order to allocate more blood for the muscles.
Hyperventilation. A common symptom associated with panic attacks and emotional distress in general. When you’re hyperventilating, your breathing rate greatly increases, resulting in very low carbon dioxide levels in the body. The blood vessels constrict, resulting in slower blood flow, leading to common signs of poor circulation like cold and tingling extremities, rapid heartbeat, feelings of faintness, and light-headedness.
Blood pressure. You may have had high blood pressure when going through tough times in your life. Bouts of anxiety can cause abrupt spikes in blood pressure, albeit temporary. But when these spikes happen too often, or even on a daily basis, your blood vessels and organs like the heart and kidneys can get damaged, and you can develop chronic high blood pressure.
Of course, these changes in blood circulation are short term, only required for that particular stressful situation. However, when the impact of stress persists and becomes chronic, health problems start arising. Chronic stress and circulatory problems put your heart at the risk for high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and even heart failure. If you’ve been dealing with anxiety for quite some time without any success, or if you’re been noticing any of the abovementioned symptoms of circulatory problems, you should see your doctor to make sure your condition is well taken care of.
To a certain degree, you can effectively manage your stress on your own. Here are a few options that will benefit your mental well-being as well as your physical health:
- Exercise. In some cases, it has proven to be just as effective as some anxiety medications. Regular physical activity promotes the release of “feel-good” neurotransmitters, improving the mood.
- Yoga. Aside from being a form of physical activity, yoga is also a great way to relax and unwind, and improve your circulation, too! If you’re going to the studio for your practice, you have an opportunity to socialize with other people, which is also crucial for a healthy mind and a good mood.
- Massage. Another popular anxiety buster and a blood circulation booster, a good massage will take your mind off those stressful thoughts and will relieve any tension in the muscles.
Our life is full of stress, but that doesn’t mean we should fall victim to its harmful effects. Stay on the bright side, keep those worries at bay, for your own sanity and for the sake of your health.