The Stress Response: From Brain to Body

When you experience stress it is a whole-body experience! Your face gets hot, your hands feel sweaty...

When you experience stress it is a whole-body experience! Your face gets hot, your hands feel sweaty, and your heart beats like a never-ending drum solo. But why? How does the conscious understanding of a nearing deadline or big life event cause your body to act so differently? The answer lies in our scientific understanding of the mind-body connection.

When we are faced with a high-pressure situation, a part of our brain called the hypothalamus launches into action. Our hypothalamus sends signals to our adrenal glands, located at the top of our kidneys. The adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol, which act on the body to produce the uncomfortable sensations we are all too familiar with. 

1) Effects of Adrenaline:

  • Your heart beats faster
  • Your blood vessels dilate 

2) Effects of Cortisol

  • Breaks down sugar
  • Increases storage of excess nutrients into fat

Adrenaline allows your body to increase the amount of oxygen-rich blood sent to your muscles, to ready you for action. Cortisol allows your body to increase energy production to maintain your stress response to combat long-term stressors.

So the next time you hear someone describe stress as, “All in your head,” you can rest assured, knowing that your mind and body are inseparable. Stress causes a very real physiological response and should be acknowledged in society in the same way other physiological conditions are. The good news is there are many ways to combat stress and help the body regulate to prevent the psychological impacts.  You can read helpful tips here - https://adaa.org/tips


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https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
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