How The Stress Of Being Late Affects Your Body

by Kat George

By now you're probably aware that stress wreaks havoc on your body, so it's no wonder that being stressed when you're running late makes things a whole lot worse than they need to be. No one ever solved a problem by stressing. It goes without saying that stressing out won't magically make you apparate to the place you need to be on time. So next time you're running against the clock, stop, take a breath, take ten paces back, and try to relax. You're late. There's nothing you can do about it. The last thing you need is to send your body into survival mode.

Being late is one of those things that stresses you out when it really shouldn't. Whether you're late for work or to meet a friend, if you're a generally late person, you're probably going to start feeling some stress (unless you don't care about things like work and friends, then maybe you're not stressed at all). I mean, you could just stop being late, which is the best way to avoid stress, but some people are just "late people." So here's what happens to your body when you're stressed about being late, which will hopefully give you some impetus to stop being late:

1. Your Body Goes Into "Fight Or Flight" Mode

When this happens, your body's central nervous system calls the rest of the body to action, causing the brain to release a hefty dose of adrenaline. Your heart rate will increase, and because you're not actually fighting or flighting, the increased hormone release is moot. This unnecessary adrenaline can cause irritability, anxiety, and headaches. So now not only are you late, you're cranky. You're basically the worst.

2. Your Tummy Might Be Upset

Stress causes anxiety in your body (see above), which is actually an identified cause of stomach pain. Stress can cause tension in your abdominal muscles, affect digestion because of the brain's release of extra hormones, and in extreme cases can promote IBS. All of these are obviously quite uncomfortable.

3. Your Blood Pressure Will Elevate

Under stress, your heart beats faster and increases your blood pressure. It's not great if you've got asthma or emphysema, as this reaction can make it harder to breathe. So now your stressed self is in a foul mood, nauseous, and working your heart into a frenzy. Slow clap for the stressed out late person.

4. You Might Get Chest Pain

With the increased blood pressure and adrenaline, you might feel tightness in your chest. That's symptomatic of the "fight or flight" reaction happening in your body. Under stress, your arteries are also prone to spasm, which can create chest pain, too. Yet another reason to try your best to stay calm when your life is chaotic.

5. You'll Get Sweaty

Nothing good happens when you're running late and stressed — especially when you consider how sweaty you get when you're stressed and rushing around. Obviously, being late, you're probably walking faster (or even in a light jog), and just generally trying to get things done faster. Like exercise, this will get your heart rate up and your glands sweating, if you weren't already from the adrenaline rush. Some studies have shown that stress-related sweat is different from heat-related sweat. The latter is produced to make your body cool down, but stress-related sweat might be designed to warn other people that there's something up with you. (Spoiler alert: YOU'RE LATE.)

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