Things that happen to your body when you experience stress

On-going runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, coughing and wheezing... Doctors have given me various different medicines and treatments, yet the symptoms continue. So, what is happening with me?

Well, the short answer is “stress”. 

A stressful situation, whether it be environmental, such as the quality of air we breathe and the food we eat, or psychological, such as a difficult relationship at work or home; can release stress hormones into the blood causing all types of physiological responses in the body. These include increased heart rate, quickened breathing and the tensing of muscles. This is all part of the fight-flight system, driven by our brain stem at a sub-conscious level and designed to promote our survival as human beings.

Now, a long time ago, when our ancestral lives were much simpler and mainly involved the stress of hunting down food and to avoid being eaten by larger predators, the fight-flight survival mechanism made perfect sense. It suppressed functions such as digestion, growth, reproduction and immune responses; functions that were non-essential or detrimental in a life or death situation. The blood was diverted from these areas to our arms and legs, giving us greater energy and strength to run or fight.

The problem is that our modern lives are so much more complex, and stresses that set off the fight-flight response can be found anywhere and everywhere. Our brains fail to distinguish between the threat of a large predator trying to eat you and the emotional turmoil caused by an unhappy relationship. The fight-flight system responds in exactly the same way, creating the exact same physiological responses. So, instead of being turned on and off for short sporadic events of true life and death survival, we find our system being over-stimulated and kept on over prolonged periods of time.

I guess you can put it together now and see why you may be suffering those symptoms. Prolonged stresses are leading to an over-active fight-flight response, which in turn is suppressing your immune system. Whenever you suffer on-going stressors your immune system suffers. There is nothing wrong with you. You don’t have some undiagnosed disease or condition. You simply haven’t identified and thus, managed your stresses in life appropriately.

I rarely suffer any of these symptoms anymore. That is not because I’ve had some magic pill or treatment; it’s because I no longer feel helpless and disempowered. I understand stress, and my stressors in particular, and I know the choices I have in managing them. Kinesiology not only tones down any over-active fight-flight activity, but also allows me to identify specific stressors in my life that contribute to my state of health and well-being. 

Book a session with us to uncover and learn how to handle your own stressors. We also run introductory courses to provide a deeper understanding and to equip you with the tools for managing stress and achieving optimal health. Feel free to contact me for more details.

- Sean Bilkey, Kinesiologist and Head of Education, Kinesiology Asia Institute