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Coping With Pandemic Stress

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CDC.gov
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You could say this past year has been...stressful. The coronavirus pandemic has affected millions of people, and the stress of it all can easily get to anyone. However, too much stress can take a toll on our bodies if we’re not careful.

So how exactly do our bodies respond to stress?
When we’re stressed, our bodies release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones trigger our fight-or-flight reflexes. They cause our heart and breathing rates to increase and our muscles to tense up. This is actually healthy for us in small doses, but too much stress over a long period of time can be harmful.

For instance, that muscle tension is meant to prevent injury during certain situations. But prolonged muscle tension can lead to head and body aches, as well as back and neck problems. The faster blood flow helps bring more oxygen to our muscles, but it can also increase blood pressure, which can lead to more serious conditions, like heart attacks and strokes.

Thankfully, there are healthy ways to handle stress. Stretching and taking deep breaths can help release that muscle tension and bring your heart rate down. Taking the time to exercise and eat a healthy diet relaxes your body and mind, and can improve your mood.

Special thanks to Dr. Christine Lattin in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences for contributing to this report.