A few blogs ago I discussed how stress can affect the body. It causes the release of cortisol, which is an inflammatory hormone. When released into the body during times of stress it can exacerbate already inflammed muscular issues. So what happens when stressed? And how can we reduce the affects of stress on our bodies?All of us have some form of stress in our lives. Whether it is associated with our work, our home life, our commute to work, schooling, so on and so on. For an example let’s look at a person who works at a computer in a cubicle and has a wife and two children. We’ll call him Bob. Bob just got the word that there is a big project that is due in 1 month and he is going to have to work extra hours for the next few weeks to get this project done. Bob is on salary so he doesn’t get paid any extra for the additional hours he has to work. So Bob is annoyed as soon as he hears he is going to have to work more. He knows this will mean less time at home with his wife and children. He is probably going to miss his son’s first baseball game of the season and his daughter’s violin recital. he knows his wife is going to be angry at him when he tells her he is not going to be around for much of the next month. So before the project even starts Bob is getting stressed.1 week into the project and Bob has missed his son’s first baseball game and his son and wife are mad at him about that. He has been working 12 hour days during the week and 6 hour days on the weekends. He is tired and stressed out from all of the work. He has had no time to exercise. When he eats it is something quick from the vending machine or from the fast food joint down the street from his work. He has not been able to eat at home for the past week. And he has not been getting enough sleep. All of this will promote irritation throughout the body.At this point his body is relasing cortisol which is irritating his overused muscles. He is sitting at a desk for long hours which is irritating his muscles in his neck and shoulders and low back and hips. All of the bad food he is eating is full of free-radicals. These free-radicals attatch themselves to molecules throughout the body and cause different systems to not work as well and cause some molecules to break down. This process will accumulate. The affects of this are cumulative. Meaning that in 2 or 3 weeks when the project is done, his system will be shot. His body will then be primed for getting sick and injuring a shoulder, neck, low back or hip. He will be run down. Many people at this point will get sick or injure something. It is very common.So how do you decrease the affects of s tressful period like this? How do you come out of a stressful time feeling good? Exercise and eat right. If Bob could manage to exercise a few times a week throughout this stressful period his body will stay healthier. He will have the endurance to last throughout this hard time. His muscles will not get as irritated from sitting all day in front of a computer. The more you move your body around and get blood flowing into the muscles, the better off the muscles will be. The better they will feel and the less irritated they will get from sitting all day in front of a computer. This is because every day Bob sits in front of his computer his muscles will tighten up some. This will be compounded by the stress and extra hours. But if he can move around, stretch some and do a little exercise during this time period, the muscles will not accumulate as much inflammation and therefore will not get irritated as easily.Eating right will also decrease the affects of a stressful period. Stress will cause inflammation. Inflammation will cause the increased production of free-radicals. Free-radicals will cause systems to break down. Eating right with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables will supply the body with lots of free-radical killing anti-oxidants. These anti-oxidants will prevent the free-radicals from causing the body to break down.Another point about eating right and exercising is that it will increase Bob’s mental capacity. He will be more productive at his work after exercising because his body will be fatigued and he will be producing growth hormone in his brain that will help lay down the neurological pathways that become memories.So exercise and watch what you eat while stressed. It will help you get through a stressful period without your body breaking down afterwards.