What does stress do to the body?

How the Body Responds to Stress

Stress or the “fight or flight” response isn’t just a feeling or a thought. It’s an actual chemical response  of hormones that your body produces when it’s met with a challenge. Sometimes that’s actually good. If we are faced with needing to run from a dangerous situation or need to react quickly, those chemical messengers kick in and can be life saving. The main stress hormone is cortisol. Cortisol is a messenger that tells our immune system to gear up for a challenge. The immune system responds by producing inflammation and then after the challenge is over, cortisol tells the immune system to calm down. The problem occurs when our body stays in this stress response from the bombardment of activities that come at us that are not life threatening.  Responding to acute stress is healthy. Chronic stress is damaging to the body and our immune system. Constant work, sleep deprivation, diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, too much time on the computer, issues at home or work, the list goes on and on.  Your immune system never really gets any down time. Eventually after being on too long, it goes rogue and starts attacking your own bodily tissues. We end up with a myriad of symptoms like weight gain, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, headaches, chronic aches and pains, digestive issues, skin issues, muscle pains, chronic fatigue and even hormonal imbalances. So how do we reduce this stress response?

We need to adopt daily stress-relieving strategies.


Create space for self-care: This is critically important. You need down time and time to refresh and fill your own tank to keep you healthy. When you are constantly taking care of others, giving your energy to work and not taking care of you, your immune system is on overload. Self care is not a luxury, it is a necessity for optimal health.
Here are a few of my favorites:

Get a massage: Therapeutic massage is not just for birthdays. It is an important component in activating the relaxation response and inviting your body to heal. Healing only takes place during the “Rest and Digest” (Parasympathetic response ) of your nervous system. Massage shifts your body from the stress response to the relaxation response and invites your body to heal and let go of stress held in the body and the mind. To book an appointment just click on book an appointment.

Breathing: When you find yourself overwhelmed with stress, take a moment to connect with your breath. Concentrate on breathing in and out until your anxiety has calmed. Centering prayer and mindfulness meditation are wonderful ways to stop the stress response and bring the mind back to the present moment.

Go for a walk outside: Just moving your body can help you literally “walk off” your stress. Breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine and the birds singing and feeling your body move brings a new perspective to any stressful situation.

Enjoy a Hobby: What do you enjoy? Knitting, crafts, photography
Whatever feeds your creative side that is enjoyable shifts that fight or flight energy into a creative way to process it.

Music: Amazingly, half an hour of listening to music can reduce your cortisol levels. Choose something soothing and relaxing and notice how your body relaxes.

Gratitude: When you feel over whelmed by the day or an event, take a moment to shift into gratitude. Write down 5 things you are thankful for. You might even find that the situation that is causing your stress is an agent for bringing more gratitude into your awareness. Gratitude shifts the focus. You can not be mad and grateful at the same time.

Gentle exercise: Try yoga or stretching. Just getting up from your chair and stretching the body for 10-15 minutes can do a world of good.

One of my favorite things to do seasonally for my own self care is to schedule a retreat by myself. I go to a lovely place called the Well of Mercy where I take 2-3 days to decompress, regroup and get centered again. I try to go twice a year. When I return home I find that I have a renewed clarity on items that have been on my mind, a renewed gratitude for my life and am ready to give more love to my family and energy to my clients. Find a sacred space that speaks to you. Your family and your health will thank you!


When you choose the Shine Wellness Program you get a MONTHLY 1 hour massage for $49 or a 90 min. massage for $75. No contract, no sign up fees and cancel at anytime. Your debit or credit card will auto draft on the same day each month and you will be making self care a priority for YOU!

If you want an additional massage each month you will get the same discounted rate.

Sign up here

Shine on friends!