How Stress Can Impact Your Body

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This should come as no surprise – stress is the number one reason people visit a spa!

We generally use the word “stress” when we’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t cope with the pressures placed upon us. Life is full of near-constant triggers that we all must navigate, but are you aware of the effects of stress on your body and well-being? Have you noticed a dull, lingering ache in your neck or your head? Are you seeing facial lines and wrinkles deepen? Do you suffer from occasional indigestion? How well do you sleep, and for how long? While they may seem unrelated, these issues can all be effects of stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is anything that presents a challenge or a threat to our well-being. Some stresses get you motivated and can be good for you. However, prolonged anxiety or pressure makes the adrenal glands and heart go into overdrive. A body under constant stress may not properly metabolize the extra blood sugar. Not only can chronic stress increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and hypertension, but increased stomach acid can also produce stress-triggered indigestion. Since it’s so closely related to blood pressure, hormones, and mental focus, libido can also seriously suffer from the effects of stress.

The difference between “stress” and “a stressor” is that a stressor is an agent or stimulus that causes stress. Stress is the feeling we have when under pressure, while stressors are the things we respond to in our environment. Examples of stressors are loud noises, difficult people, traffic, or even a social gathering.  Generally (but not always), the more stressors we experience, the more stressed we feel.

 The “Fight-or-Flight” Response

The way you respond to a challenge may also be a type of stress. Part of your response to a challenge is physiological and impacts your physical state. When faced with a challenge or a threat, your body activates resources to protect you. You’re told to either get away as fast as you can or face the challenge head-on and fight.

Anxiety releases “stress hormones” that aid the body and mind in reacting quickly when a stressful situation arises. The “fight-or-flight” reflex is our mental response to the stress. Our body produces larger quantities of the chemicals cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which trigger a higher heart rate, heightened muscle preparedness, sweating, and alertness. All these factors help us protect ourselves in a dangerous or challenging situation.

The liver also fuels that reaction with a surge of glucose, the body’s gasoline. Your heart races, muscles tense, blood pressure rises, stomach acid increases, and attention sharpens all at once. Non-essential body functions slow down, such as our digestive and immune systems when we are in “fight-or-flight” mode. All resources can then be concentrated on rapid breathing, blood flow, alertness and muscle use. If the stress dissipates, then hormones, glucose, and blood pressure levels usually go back to normal.

Effects of Stress

Statistics today show that stress and related ailments are responsible for 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits. It’s also reported that 45 percent of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress. These negative health problems manifest as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems and hormonal imbalances that can lead to skin conditions, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and even autoimmune diseases.

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Association has declared stress a hazard of the work place, responsible for more than $300 billion in medical bills annually. Additionally, 50 percent of all emotional disorders may be due to chronic, untreated stress. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11% of Americans take antidepressant medications which is a 400% increase from the 80’s. Our lifestyle today of technology and around-the-clock, nonstop working has elevated our stress levels to a point of breaking.

Stress can also manifest in the face. It can happen to people who work at computers all day, which can cause persistent neck and back pain. If they don’t correct their posture at work, their tense muscles never really relax, and so they “lock” in painful misalignment. The muscular pain worsens at night and causes sleep deprivation. The face is also made of muscles, and over time, the combination of pain and lack of sleep can tense up the facial muscles and accentuate the appearance of wrinkles.

Watch our Stress Awareness Month video to learn more.

Stress and Spa Visits

A visit to a spa can jump start a healthy lifestyle whether you are concerned with aching joints and sore muscles, weight loss or a chronic skin condition. It offers the relief we need from the negative stress that surrounds us daily. Even just one visit alone can be a dramatic relief for your mind, body, and soul. Spending a day away from the hectic lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to helps relieve job stress and fatigue. With over 20 different types of massage, and new spa specials every month, complete relaxation is just one appointment away. You’ll experience rejuvenation, re-energized vigor and clarity in your thinking as well as improved sleep.

Here at Complexions Spa, we always express to our clients that the time before and after your appointment is just as important as the treatment itself. We recommend coming in early and staying after your appointment to enjoy our Relaxation Lounge, organic tea bar, steam room and sauna. These unhurried moments ensure you’ll leave relaxed and renewed.

About the Author:

I serve on and support several community charity committees as I believe it’s important to give back. In my spare time I love hiking and fishing in the Adirondacks, equestrian sports and thoroughbreds, fine wine, skiing, golf, and traveling to distant locations. I also love early mornings in the gym exercising, pilates, my dog, cooking, and sharing time with my husband and two children, good friends and family.