The Physical Effects of Worry (Part 1)

Posted on by leapforward

We’ve been talking a lot about worry lately – why we do it, how to stop it why it has such control over us. But an important component of worry is the physical impact it can have.

Worry might seem like it’s a strictly mental exercise, but if you’re a real worrier, you know that’s not true. Just think back to the last time you were stressed about something, and envision the impact it had on your physical state.

That physical reaction is caused by something called the “stress response” – an automatic physiological “fight or flight” reaction initiating a surge of adrenaline and setting your body on red alert.

That “fight or flight” response – which kept our early ancestors from becoming a lion’s dinner! — causes the nervous system to release stress hormones like cortisol. These hormones boost blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that the body uses to fuel the flight, or the fight. The hormones are also responsible for physical reactions including :

• Difficulty swallowing
• Dizziness
• Dry mouth
• Fast heartbeat
• Fatigue
• Headaches
• Inability to concentrate
• Irritability
• Muscle aches
• Muscle tension
• Nausea
• Nervous energy
• Rapid breathing
• Shortness of breath
• Sweating
• Trembling and twitching

Do you recognize any of these symptoms in your own life? What physical effect does worry have on you? Share in the comments some of your physical reactions to worry, and how you cope with them!

And look for Part 2 of this post on worry’s physical effects, where I’ll talk about some of the long-term physical effects worry can have – and helpful steps you can take to minimize your physical response to stress!

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