The Effects of STRESS on your Body

PRIMARY STRESS RESPONSE

IMMEDIATE & URGENT RESPONSE to SERIOUS THREAT

SKIN: pales as blood diverted to vital organs.

HEART: begins to pound, sending blood around body carrying sugar (energy) and hormones (eg. adrenalin

MUSCLES: tense in readiness for action.

BLOOD: thickens to help it carry more oxygen, fight infection & stop bleeding

LUNGS: air passage dilates, breathing more intense to provide more oxygen to feed increase blood supply.

LIVER: glycogen converted to blood sugar to give ‘short distance’ energy.

SWEAT GLANDS: start up to cool the underlying and overheated muscles.

DIGESTION: processes shut down as blood diverted elsewhere. Mouth goes dry to avoid adding extra fluids to stomach.

BLADDER & RECTUM: Muscles relax to release any excess load.

SECONDARY STRESS RESPONSE

ONGOING RESPONSE to UNDEALT WITH STRESS

IMMEDIATE & URGENT RESPONSE to SERIOUS THREAT

SKIN: less blood supply can lead to diseases developing

HEART: racing heartbeat and high blood pressure can lead to strokes or heart attacks.

MUSCLES: ongoing tension leads to aches & pains, even muscle strain.

BLOOD: heart works harder due to thickened blood.

LUNGS: super-oxygenated blood can lead to blackouts and upset heart rhythms.

LIVER: body’s own fats and proteins broken down and released to provide further energy.

DIGESTION: shutdown can lead to stomach problems, particularly if you eat on the run. Increase in acidity can contribute to stomach ulcers.

BLADDER & RECTUM: Muscles relax to release any excess load.

WARNING SIGNS:

Below are some of the messages our bodies send to tell us we’re stressed.

KEY:  Early Warning Signs, Secondary Stress Signs in italics

PHYSICAL

  • • Muscle tension/headaches
    • Sleep disturbance/tiredness
    • Increased ‘breakouts’
    • Rapid pulse
    • Nausea
    • Indigestion
    • Increased Sweating
    • Flushing (face feeling hot)
    • Prolonged/Frequent headaches
    • Susceptibility to mild illness
    • Dizziness/Faintness
    • Breathlessness/Chest Pain
    • Ongoing Nausea/Stomach ache
    • Ongoing fitful Sleep
Healthy employee is the first step towards a productive, and most importantly a Happy Workplace.

BEHAVIOURAL

• Appetite changes/compulsive eating
• Impatience, Carelessness, Hyperactivity
• Poor productivity/Low energy
• Avoidance of situations/places
• Change in sleeping patterns
• Increased alcohol, cigarette and drug use
• Increased absenteeism, aggression, irritability
• Sudden tears

EMOTIONAL

• Anxiety/Sadness
• Moodiness/Grumpiness
• Loss of sense of Humour
• Withdrawal/Feeling of isolation
• Low self-esteem
• Feelings of guilt and shame
• Extreme anger (over-reaction)
• Loss of libido
• Overwhelming feelings of panic/anxiety

THOUGHTS/PERCEPTION

• Inability to make decisions or muddled thinking
• Reduced co-ordination/creativity
• Becoming more vague/forgetful
• Negative ‘globalization’. Everything seems to go wrong/is bad
• Fear of rejection/defensiveness
• Rushed decisions
• Over-sensitive to criticism
• Poor concentration
• Negative self-talk/fear of failure
• Feelings of ‘unfairness’
• Can’t switch off