Stress is your body’s response to a flight or fight scenario. When you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones tell the body to take emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed up reaction time, and enhance focus. All these responses are normal when you are exercising or managing potential dangers. Beyond a certain point, however, stress stops being helpful and begins to lower the quality of your overall health, including your mood and productivity.
What happens when stress becomes chronic
Chronic stress is a state of ongoing physiological arousal. This occurs when the body experiences so many stressors that the autonomic nervous system rarely has a chance to activate the relaxation response. This type of chronic stress response can occur from ongoing job and family pressures, constant noise, environmental toxins, even busy traffic, and can keep the body in a state of perceived threat and chronic stress. In this case, the fight-or-flight response, which was designed to help you fight life-threatening situations, can wear down the body and cause physical and emotional exhaustion. Research indicates that stress plays a role in up to 90% of doctor visits.
What the body needs to better handle stress
Some people seem to thrive on stress, others find it difficult to handle minor stressful events, even when they bring positive results. What makes the difference? Science has found that exposed to the same triggers, people vary considerably in their stress response. Physiological differences, hormonal balances and inborn temperament all play a role. Regardless of how stressful events impact a person, however, supplementing one’s diet with the nutrients the body needs to handle stress can help. L-theanine, Ashwaganda, Rhodiola Rosea and Bacopa have all been studied for their stress reducing physiological properties. These nutrients support healthy brain and hormonal function, so that the body experiences stress differently. Regardless of physiological and temperament differences, the right nutrients can positively impact a person’s ability to handle stress.