Stress! How much does stress really impact on your health?

June 26, 2017
Protein Energy Balls
July 10, 2017
Show all

Stress! How much does stress really impact on your health?

We hear about stress all the time and how it’s bad for us.

But really how bad is it? and how does it impact on our health?

Stress impacts on us in a number of ways:


Heard of fight or flight response? this happens when we are in survival mode and it happens when we are stressed because stress activates our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which makes our blood travel to the arms and legs to increase our ability to fight or flight – fight whatever is stressing us out or flight run away from a threat.

You see our bodies are still used to the days when wild animals would attack us and we would have to react on survival instincts, unfortunately this is how our bodies still react when we encounter stress so when we are stressed at work our body goes into SNS reactions which is fine in the short term, however..  problems can occur when we are chronically stressed, our SNS deactivates our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) which is responsible for rest and digest. This is what happens

  • Sleep: we don’t rest properly when stress activates the SNS. Have you ever had those nights when you wake up at some ridiculous hour say 3pm and you can’t shut your brain up? and whatever is stressing you out whether it be work, finances or your relationship just circulate  in your brain over and over.
  • Digestion: is also hugely impacted by stress! this is because when SNS is activated blood travels to our legs, arms and head to help us fight a threat or flight (run) from a threat. Digestive effects: This means our blood travels away from our gut and we don’t digest our food properly, because our blood which carries our oxygen and the chemical tools to digest is reduced meaning our food sits in our gut fermenting which can cause methane build up which leads to flatulence and bloating.
  • Immune function: Stress also depresses our immune function so the more stressed you are the more susceptible you are to viruses.
  • Mental health: Stress also increases the likelihood of experiencing mental conditions such as anxiety and depression. Obviously when we are stressed we have a higher rate of adrenaline which burns through much needed nutrients that would otherwise be helping us to so other things like sleep, relax, make serotonin our feel good hormone (or neurotransmitter) and the list goes on.
  • Nutrients: stress depletes a whole range of nutrients. High lighting just a few B vitamins– these help to make adrenaline but they are also needed for a host of functions in the body like ENERGY production, maintaining a good mood, produce and break down glucose and B vitamins are also needed for DNA synthesis, sounds pretty important! Magnesium is also used up in stressful situations, magnesium is needed for muscle relaxation, it is also needed for circadian rhythm which influences our sleep cycles. Have you ever experienced twitches when your tired and stressed its more than likely that your magnesium is being depleted. This is just some of nutrients stress depletes there are more but this post would be very long if I kept going.
  • Cardiovascular disease: stress increases our heart rate this leads to increased blood pressure again in the short term it’s not so bad, but in the long term stress can lead to high blood pressureShort term stress increases goal shielding which means we can focus acutely on our goals, so its actually really necessary in some situations. In the long term focus starts to lapse as our bodies resources become used up.

So that is a lot of negative effects! but its not all bad stress in the short term gives us motivation to do what we need to do, and sometimes puts a fire under us to keep moving.

There are lots of things you can do to keep from being stressed. Here is my favorite short list of things to do when stressed.

Breathe- it sounds simple but when things are getting heated remembering to take a few calming breaths really helps.

Meditation- If you are like me you might find it difficult to slow your thoughts at times. Mindfulness meditation can really help you focus on the here and now (I’m also cheeky and use it to go back to sleep if I have interrupted sleep). for more information on mindfulness follow this link

The smiling mind is a great free app to try mindfulness and if you have an android phone they usually have coach by Cigna loaded in which has a great 8 week mindfulness course for beginners

Exercise- yoga or Pilates are great for night time exercise very calming if your feeling really stressed out but even just a 5 minute walk around the block can help to reduce the SNS reaction and put us back into PSNS which.

Exercising your brain- boredom can really start to effects peoples moods i.e. going to a tedious job coming home eating a similar meal to the night before, watching the same thing can start to get some people stuck in a rut. Exercising your brain by doing new things which can be as simple as trying a new recipe or walking to work on a nice day to learning a new skill all of this can exercises your brain which increases satisfaction and reduces stress.

Me time- I know for some of us getting a shower without interruption is the most me time we have, but it is really important to take time out for yourself. Whether its just putting headphones on and dancing around, reading a book, having a bath or just watching junk on the TV we all need that time to power down.

Eating well- I don’t meant having the perfect diet I mean generally having a good diet with whole foods (you know the ones that don’t come from a packet). This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy pizza or eat chocolate sometimes as long as you have enough of the good food most of the time

Friends and Family time- making time for your loved ones is important in a number of ways. humans are herd animals as much as some say they are loners our bodies have physiological reactions when we feel like we are part of a group. Rejection and isolation actually produce chemicals in our brain that are similar to our bodies responses of physical pain. When we feel connected or cared for, our resilience is stronger than when we are alone. So make time for a tea with a friend, a movie night, dinner, set aside time for uninterrupted undistracted play time with your kids. It is important to them and to you!

Touch- is linked in to how we communicate. Touch actually stimulates our happy hormones dopamine and serotonin so get a hug next time you see your loved ones, a massage does the same thing and really relaxes you.

Consider what is causing your stress- why are you feeling stressed and what can you do about it? Is it a relationship a job or financial burden? Is it worth continuing along this road or making a change?

If you need extra help in Australia, you can seek the help of your doctor to get some free counselling visits. seeking the guidance of an impartial skilled listener can really help you to get some good coping mechanisms.Naturopaths can tell you a lot about stress’s impact on your body and great ways to increase coping mechanisms, what could be causing the reduced ability to cope and address any nutritional deficiencies that may be causing or caused by the stress.

If you need extra help follow the links or call the numbers below

There are a host of health practitioners to help you deal with stress.

beyond blue 1300 22 4636

suicide prevention on 131114 or learn more at

help guide

for parents and teenagers

Stay happy, healthy and look after you.