Body Blog: Stress Does the Body Bad

Stress has been my companion for as long as I can remember. I’m the kind of girl who likes having a million things to do because I love feeling productive. Unfortunately, I tend to take on more than I can handle. This leads to late nights, early mornings, constant worrying, tiredness, and, well…you know the routine.

So in an effort to stop overworking myself (you should really see my jam-packed planner) and to help my fellow busy bees (high five!) de-stress, here are a few reasons why we should take a breather and stop stressing out!

There are 50 Stress-Related Effects – none of which are attractive

The American Institute of Stress lists them here. Some of them are more common (headaches, impulse buying) while others are a bit extreme (ringing, buzzing or popping sounds). Wow, makes me want to call in sick…

Allow me to be more specific…

Ever look into a mirror during finals week and be shocked to see how unnaturally pale you are? Blame it on the stress! When you are stressed, your body responds by directing your blood flow to the heart, brain, and lungs since they are the most critical functions. Your skin does not get as much blood as when you are well rested, making you lose those rosy cheeks. Translation: you look like a zombie.

Also, because blood flow is not prioritized towards the muscles, you start feeling achy and tension on your body parts. When there is not enough blood, your muscles are being cheated of oxygen and its daily nutrients. Your shoulders, neck, back, and legs will NOT thank you. An easy fix is to stretch – it’ll loosen up your muscles.If problems persist, a good massage will bring senses back into your nerves and redirect blood flow where it is lacking.

Other visible effects include brittle nails from lack of nutrients, acne from increased oil production in the skin, and loss of hair.

It shows – muffin top style

When we are stressed, we release a hormone called cortisol, which in turn releases more hormones that slow down our metabolism and increase the likelihood for sugary cravings. This could lead to momentary weight gain, but long-term stress could mean a few unnecessary pounds. On the other hand, if you’re one of the few who eat less when stressed, then you are depriving your body of essential nutrients!

Quick fixes

Like I said earlier, getting a massage is a good answer to loosening up tight muscle knots and to get the blood moving.

If you have an extra 30 minutes, then head outside for a quick run, make your way to the campus gym, roll out a cute yoga mat, or pop in a workout DVD right in your room! The cute guys over at UPenn say every exercise session gives you 90-120 minutes of “relaxation response.”

I would also add “sleeping” into your schedule, but we all know that’s nearly impossible in any stressful situation. But if you can still fit in 7-8 hours of sleep, then pop in those ear plugs and do it.

Nothing’s more important than your well-being

Whether it’s a big project on the line or you are just over committed, try taking at least 5 minutes every day to just BREATHE. Realize that at the end of the day, it’s all small stuff to begin with. If you can’t handle an extra project, learn to say no. If you are worried about the “what-if’s” of an upcoming event, learn to prepare the best you can and then roll with the punches. Don’t let an essay or a presentation get the best of you. It ain’t pretty.

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