The health epidemic of the XXI century

Did you know that:

  • 43% of all adults suffer from health disorderd caused by stress

  • Between 75% and 90% of all visits to the doctor are due to illnesses and disorders related to stress

  • Stress can be responsible of many common problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, skin disorders, hair loss, asthma, arthritis, sleep disorders, depression and anxiety

  • Stress has been identified as one of the most important risks in today’s work environment

What is stress?

Stress is a normal part of life, it is any change in our surrounding environment that requires your body to react and adapt in response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental and emotional responses.

Stress can be positive (“eustress”) – it is what keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. Normally, when stress diminishes, the body finds its balance again and we go back to feeling relaxed again.

Stress becomes negative (“distress”) when we face on-going challenges without relief or relaxation in between them. As a result, we feel overloaded and stress-related tension increases.

Continuous activation of the nervous system ‒when experiencing the “stress response”‒ causes the organism’s exhaustion.

What happens when we feel stressed?

When we are facing an imminent threat, the immune system and the processing of food are not important. These functions are deactivated in order to retain all possible energy and use it for muscles, necessary in the fight or flight response.

In a state of stress our organism releases stress hormones such as cortisol, which helps us face the threat, but at the same time it inhibits the immune system and the inflammatory pathways and we become more vulnerable to infections and chronic inflamations. Our capacity to defend ourselves from illnesses is reduced.

Stress and breathing

When we feel stressed, the respiratory system suffers the immediate effect of this. We will find it harder to breathe and we will breathe more quickly in an attempt to quickly bring oxygenated blood to our body.
In general, anxious people take smaller and shallower braths, using the shoulders instead of the diaphragm to move the air in and out of the lungs, as part of the fight or flight response. This style of breathing alters the balance between gases in the body. An excessive breathing or superficial hyperventilation can prolong the feeling of anxiety as it worsens the physical symptoms of stress. This quickly becomes a vicious circle which will make us feel more and more anxious.

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