The effect of stress on the human body

Published on 2nd December 2019


Few people would argue that a modern work environment can be a stressful place. Whether you are working to tight deadlines in an office-based role or managing the physical demands of an outside job, our work environments can foster not just muscular problems but emotional and psychological stress too.

Long periods of sitting at a desk in an office is about as far removed from a natural environment as you can get; hoards of individuals pressed into close proximity in an artificial sitting position, all trying to respond to the inputs of multiple forms of communication (phone, email, instant messenger...) Sound familiar? Add to that artificial light and the sedentary nature of office work and it’s no wonder we encounter problems.

But what is really happening here?

From an evolutionary point of view, our natural instincts are hugely unprepared for the environment we now live in; the advances made in everything from electronics, transport, farming and food all provide a level of “sedentary convenience” that we are not designed to cope with. All these advances are the product of a couple of hundred years of development, which in terms of the existence of Homo Sapien is the blink of an eye.

Our natural instincts are affected in other ways too. Take for example our “fight or flight” mechanism – an adrenal stress response that kicks in when we encounter a menace such as an attack from a predatory animal or enemy. Your focus sharpens, your blood thickens, blood pressure and heart rate rise in response and your muscles are flooded with adrenaline to quickly convert glycogen stores into fuel to increase your strength. Functions not considered necessary for immediate survival such as digestion and detoxification are suspended.

This is all well and good for primitive man, who will either survive the incident or die trying. In  the high pressure workplace however, we are seeing enduring and systemic levels of adrenal stress that are causing this state perpetually; this causes chronic conditions such as heart disease, weakness, tight muscles, poor breathing and digestive problems.

The complementary therapies that you hope to study having completed your anatomy and physiology course, return you to homeostasis and in doing so, resets this heightened adrenal state and allows the body’s natural repair and restore cycle to kick in. So often during a treatment you will hear a client’s stomach start to gurgle as digestion awakens and it’s common to hear of a cold that finally breaks just after a treatment.

Now you have the anatomy and physiology qualification, make sure you complete your therapy studies. In this stressed out world, the nation needs you! 


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