What stress does to your brain and body

If you’re feeling tired, fuzzy, or unmotivated, you’re not alone.
Stress related to the coronavirus and the global pandemic can take a huge short- and long-term toll on your mental and physical health.
The wear and tear it causes our bodies is called allostatic load, which can include things like depression, irregular menstrual cycles, and increased susceptibility to disease.
Here’s what’s happening in your brain when you’re chronically stressed and what it does to your body.
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Following is a transcript of the video.

Abby Tang: How are you feeling?

Graham Flanagan: I literally played that song, ♪ You had a bad day ♪

Alex Appolonia: I wrote down some points because my brain is like mush lately.

Fran Lam: Sad, worried, stressed.

Victoria Barranco: Physically, like all of the negative emotions.

Abby: This probably sounds super familiar, and that’s because a lot of us are feeling stressed right now. But this isn’t normal stress. This is pandemic stress, and it is messing with our brains in a very specific way.

When you get stressed, it triggers a chain reaction that starts in the amygdala, your emotional-processing headquarters. Your eyes and ears send info to the amygdala, and it determines if what you’re seeing and hearing is stressful. If it is, it sends a signal to your command center, the hypothalamus. It’s in charge of getting the word out to the rest of your body by way of the autonomic nervous system.

The adrenal glands get the message first and pump adrenaline into your bloodstream. Your heart beats faster; you breathe more rapidly because your muscles need extra blood and your brain needs extra oxygen. They’re preparing to react to whatever threat is causing your stress response. All of this happens in the blink of an eye. It’s like how people can jump out of the way of a car without really thinking about it.

The emotional amygdala basically overrides your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain where all the logic happens. So you don’t get a chance to think things through; you just react. Once the threat dies down, though, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over and returns all those heightened reactions to normal. But if the brain still detects danger after the initial adrenaline rush, the hypothalamus sends out another message to the rest of the HPA axis. This triggers another series of hormones that lead to the release of cortisol, which signals to the body that it needs to stay on high alert and keep pumping out stress hormones.

Right now for a lot of us, that threat is still very much alive. The amygdala is still overriding the prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of decision making and planning. So those feelings of forgetfulness and tiredness, they’re likely a product of this stress response that won’t turn off. Stress hormones and the accompanying bodily responses are super helpful in the short term, but our bodies aren’t meant to function in this heightened state for weeks or …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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