Actually, stress makes you stupid, sick, and smelly.

Now that’s a good incentive to learn to relax and destress with slow, deep breathing. So why does stress make us stupid, sick, and smelly? We can answer that question by looking at why we get stressed in the first place.

Stress is your body’s natural reaction to a threat to your safety and wellbeing. A classic example is to look at what happens to you when you find yourself face to face with an aggressive dog. Your heart rate increases, your digestive system dramatically slows down, your pupils dilate, your blood pressure increases, your breathing becomes shallow and fast, you begin to sweat, and your muscles and heart become engorged with blood as your skin turns pale from the blood being redirected. All of these things happen because of the release of stress hormones preparing your body for fight or flight in response to a threat. In the short-term this type of response can save your life, however, if you experience stress every day, all day, because your boss happens to be an asshole that bullies and abuses you, or you have an aggressive partner, etc, then that type of reaction going on in your body all the time is unsustainable. Eventually you’ll burn yourself out.

From a health point of view, being in a continuous state of stress strains your heart, increases your chances of having a stroke due to high blood pressure, and lowers your immune function because all of the body’s energy is being used elsewhere, which increases your susceptibility to infection and even increases your risk of getting cancer. Where health is concerned STRESS is your body’s enemy.

The effects of stress don’t just stop with the body, they spill over into the realms of the mind. When you get stressed the flow of blood in your brain decreases in your frontal lobes and is redirected to your hind brain and emotional brain. This means your ability to think rationally and plan ahead is severely hampered. Essentially stress turns you into a puppy. Seriously, when you’re under stress you act more like a puppy than a human. This is why it’s never a good idea to make decisions when you’re under stress unless you absolutely have to.

What about smelling bad?  Think about the original example of the dog, or maybe it’s a lion or a bear. When you get stressed, your body will begin to sweat. The more stressed you are the more profusely you’ll sweat. Why? Two reasons. One, sweating lubricates your body and makes it easier to escape the grip of whatever it is your faced with, and secondly, when you get stressed the sweat you excrete tends to smell bad. That’s not a great thing if your on your way to your new girlfriend/boyfriend’s house to meet your future parents in law! But it’s very useful when you’re faced with a predator that wants to eat you for dinner because when food smells bad, it’s a sign that it’s gone off. And even animals don’t like to eat food that will make them sick.

So there you have it. Stress makes you stupid, sick, and smelly. WHat can you do about it. Simple. Learn to slow your breathing and you’ll be able to control your stress levels 😉