Illustrated By Gabriela Alford.
Your fight-or-flight response is a pretty useful thing. Thanks to this evolutionary development, when you're faced with a threat, your brain releases a cascade of hormones that prepares you to attack — or to run for your life. But, unlike our saber-tooth-tiger-dodging ancestors, we are now in the midst of an uncharted mass experiment in living with this adaptation permanently set to "on."
When you freak out, one of the stress hormones that floods your body is cortisol, which spikes your blood sugar and blood pressure and dampens your immune system, giving you the rush of energy you need to overcome a threat. The problem: In between buzzing phones, subway delays, and midnight emails from our bosses, we feel "threatened" pretty much all the time. And, as Women's Health reports, the nonstop onslaught of cortisol that accompanies this feeling makes us more tired than we would be otherwise. An obvious way to combat this is to get your recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night; another strategy for lifting your energy levels is to get in three hours of exercise per week. An unglamorous consequence of too much stress? Constipation. Yep, your hormones also regulate your regularity. So, when you feel stopped up, drink lots of fluids and up your fiber intake with foods such as artichoke, raspberries, and lentils.
The last thing you need when you're stressed is acne, but bad news there, too: Stress raises your levels of androgens, sex hormones that trigger breakouts. Topical treatments can help, but if the problem is really severe, talk to your doctor about addressing it.
Click through for the full list of the nine ways stress wreaks havoc on your body — and what to do about them. (Women's Health)