How the body reacts to stress

Chronic stress is a long-term problem that results from the body's fight or flight systems being 'on' for months on end. It's the body reacting to a social or psychological stressor like it's a physical one. There is no angry bear chasing you, but your body is responding as if it were! So how is the body affected by stress?


When the body is under stress, it releases the hormone adrenaline into the bloodstream, which increases heart rate and blood pressure. This results in tense muscles, increased breathing and energy is quickly mobilised from storage sites. The body think it's in an emergency state and glucose, fats and simple proteins come out of fat cells, muscles and liver.

However, it goes beyond that, because over time, when a person is under chronic stress, the digestive systems slows up, reproduction is inhibited (in women, it affects ovulation and the chances of going to full-term in a pregnancy, in men, erection problems can occur and they they secrete less testosterone), sex drive decreases and the immune system is inhibited.

Internally, stress raises catecholamine and suppressor T-cells, suppressing the immune system, increasing the risk of viral infections and susceptibility to day-to-day illnesses like colds. It releases histamine, triggering broncho-constriction in asthmatics. It increases the risk of diabetes, since psychological stress changes insulin needs). Stomach acid may be altered, creating ulcers over time. It causes plaque to build up in the arteries, leading to heart disease. It can create psychiatric illness, such as depression and schizophrenia. Stress has also been linked to the development of cancerous tumours.

If you're at a point where you're stressed about your own stress levels or someone elses, you can assess stress levels with my comprehensive assessment below. For a limited time, the first five people who complete a stress assessment will receive a free, 30-minute life coaching session, so we can begin looking at how you can reduce your stress levels and move you beyond that to a more confident, happier life.