We all must deal with stress every day of our lives and you may think you are thriving against the pressures of work or home life, but are you really? Chronic stress is dangerous but did you know that it seriously affects the brain? You could be at risk.
Chronic and Acute Stress
We all love the idea of being stress-free in life but sadly, unless you are going to live the life of a hermit and half-way up a mountain, that’s not really possible. Even then, there would be a new set of stressors to deal with. Learning to manage the problems of life is paramount. Of course, it’s important to note that not all stress is bad for you. Acute stress provides you with an all-important response to a dangerous situation. If a car was hurtling towards you, it may be possible to get out of the way due to your stress response. You think more quickly, you move more efficiently and this could save your life. Although most of us do not find ourselves in life-threatening situations, acute stress still occurs. Once any pressured situation has dissipated, the stress hormones disappear too. There is usually no long-lasting effect from this.
Acute stress can be useful in multiple ways. Think of a time in the past when you needed to be mentally alert and prepared for an exam. You were under pressure and nervous but had great mental clarity. After the exam, you breathed a sigh of relief and your stress response returned to normal.
By contrast, the stress hormone cortisol is often called public enemy number one. When you feel stressed, it rages throughout your body and if not checked, can lead to many health problems including hormonal imbalances, weight gain, digestive problems, headaches, IBS, diabetes, and even heart disease. When stress levels are consistent, cortisol has a field day streaming through your system and this places a heavy toll on your adrenal glands, so you may feel as if you are constantly on the edge. Fatigue is overwhelming. But cortisol also impacts your brain function. Here’s how.