It’s no big secret that worrying tends to cause excessive amounts of stress which in no way comes with any kind of benefits. Unfortunately, stress is frequently a natural part of life which, with some practice, can be managed though not avoided entirely. Many of us have likely been told that worrying or dwelling extensively on things, especially those not within our immediate control, is not healthy. From the unpleasantness we derive from it, many of us could again confirm this as true- you just don’t feel your best, either physically or mentally, with something weighing so heavily on your mind. What we may not completely understand, however, is why. Worrying and stress do more than just negatively impact what’s happening in your head. Here’s how it may be taking a toll on the rest of your body.
A stressed-out body reacts very similarly whether the stress is a physical threat or one that is mentally perceived. In both scenarios, the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism is engaged, and the heart rate is elevated, blood pressure rises, and sweating becomes more profuse, among other alterations in both the physical and emotional state. The body is thrown out of its state of equilibrium, or homeostasis. When stress is more chronic, these protective mechanisms that the body automatically adopts are substantially muted but still in effect, and over time these can have negative consequences. Stress hormones are released and continue to travel throughout the body in the bloodstream, and these can make getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep difficult and may also perhaps interfere in the digestion process. The immune system is also placed at a marked disadvantage, and susceptibility to depressed and anxious thoughts increases. The body’s aging mechanism is also accelerated, which is why a prolonged, consistent state of stress can in fact “give you grey hairs!”
Stress in its entirety is not able to be completely eliminated from any lifestyle, but finding ways that work for each individual in order to more effectively manage it is crucial in order to avoid potential long-term detriments resulting in fatigue, premature aging and a weakened immune system.