Anxiety and stress put your mind and body through the wringer. Originally evolved to help us respond to danger, the stress response has become a danger itself when we constantly react to environmental factors that our bodies perceive as threats.
“In our world we are surrounded by chronic stressors,” says osteopathic physician John Upledger, a pioneer of craniosacral therapy as a technique for releasing disruptive energy from the nervous system. “Many [of these stressors] have to do with vibrational frequencies: sounds, lights, colors, aromas, magnetic fields, electrical fields, barometric pressure changes and so on.”
Because we aren’t actually in danger, the stress hormones produced in anticipation of the fight-or-flight response are left swimming in our bloodstream with nowhere to go. As a result, stress becomes trapped inside our bodies. Anxiety, a pathological reaction to chronic or traumatic stress, may set in.
“When people experience anxiety it is an emotional response to various triggers often based in long-rooted beliefs,” says psychotherapist Lynn Louise Wonders. “When we have emotional responses to anxiety-provoking experiences and this emotion cannot be expressed in a way that is healthy, this emotion is remembered or stored in the tissues of the body, the muscles, bones and organs.”
When stress or anxiety lingers in your body, it blazes a path of silent devastation. Cortisol suppresses your immune system, compromising your ability to fight disease. It also increases the rate of tissue damage your body sustains, as all of your available resources are being siphoned off to support the fight-or-flight mechanism. Research suggests stress is responsible for 60 percent of all human disease, and three in four doctor visits are for stress-related problems.
Other health conditions related to stress or anxiety include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Increased weight gain
- Reduced bone density
- Chronic pain
- Digestive problems
- Depression and mental illness
“Ironically, our own biology—which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers—is sabotaging our bodies and minds in a sedentary digital age,” says Psychology Today. “What can we do to defuse this time-bomb?”