Stress and the physical body

The body reacts to stress with an increased heart rate and a release of the hormone cortisol. These prepare the body for “fight or flight” which was useful in the jungle when our ancestors had to run away from a hungry lion, or hunt for food for themselves. The blood flow increases to our muscles and decreases to our stomach and digestive system. Other systems in the body reduce their activity to make way for the energetic running that is about to happen. Now in today’s world, we are not often being chased by a lion or hunting for food, except when racing to the discount section in a supermarket at 6pm. As a result, this physical release of energy through running, for example, doesn’t happen. Instead, the cortisol and high blood pressure builds up inside our bodies and causes anxiety, tension and bad moods! This is no fun for people around us, who have to tread carefully to avoid upsetting us, or for our bodies whose organs have been flooded with stress hormones!

To be continued…

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