When faced with the real threat of danger, a stress response elicits a fight or flight response for a matter of minutes that is designed to save your life. This is called the Fight or Flight response. Adrenalin and cortisol are released from the adrenal glands which raise blood pressure and increase heart rate.
Glucose is released spontaneously to provide energy to the muscles needed to react to the threat, cognition and awareness are heightened as is the immune system and unnecessary body systems are suppressed, such as the digestive and reproductive systems. These biological functions affect all mammals when faced with danger.
Our bodies are unable to tell the difference between real threats and perceived threats and will respond the same to both. Therefore, perceived threats such as traffic, deadlines, bills, the cranky boss, and the wrong vinaigrette on your salad can be perceived in the same light as wrestling a bear. Over time this perceived chronic stress can have a major impact upon your health.
Chronic stress leads to chronically high levels of cortisol that do not drop to normal levels after the perceived threat passes.
This leads to
- Chronic high blood pressure
- The risk of cardiovascular disease
- Suppressed immune health leading to susceptibility of infections, poor wound healing
- Digestive problems
- Hormone dysregulation
- Fertility and menstrual problems in women
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Supplementing with adaptogenic herbs and nutritional supplements can be of great benefit in coping with stress.