How Does Stress Affect the Body?
The body does not distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When we are stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, our body reacts just as strongly as if we were facing a life-or-death situation. If we have a lot of responsibilities and worries, our emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more our body’s stress system is activated, the easier it is to trip and the harder it is to shut off. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in our body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.