In this video, I cover 3 things:

✅ In what ways does chronic stress impact the various systems in your body?

✅ What are the main stress hormones and neurotransmitters involved in your body’s stress response?

✅ What are the roles of the stress hormones in your body, and how does chronic stress affect them?


Rather read the blog?

Here it is…

Hi friend, 

Have you been suffering with symptoms that you just can’t explain? Maybe you’ve had tingling or tightness in the chest? Maybe you’ve had a constant feeling of being on edge. Or headaches, pain, and tension, throughout your whole body that you just can’t account for. Are you having difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep? Or perhaps you’re having constant tiredness even after a good night’s rest.

Hi I’m Sarah Gowans massage, and cranio sacral therapist at BlossomingMe. Today I’m going to share with you about the impact small stresses, often “called small t” trauma, can cause for your physical and emotional well-being.

Chronic Stresses and “Small-t” Trauma

When trauma happens as one event, usually a large, dramatic, event your initial reactions can be clear, and obvious. But what happens when that trauma is small and ongoing? It’s not big enough to register in your mind as a trauma. Yet it reoccurs, stressing you continually, and it might be even inescapable. Like dealing with difficult people, or bullying in the workplace. Or a child at home, who has extra challenges, and extra needs. Maybe they lash out in frustration, and you’re coping with all of that. 

Small stresses can encompass a range of daily life experiences, including ongoing work-related pressures, financial strain, relationship conflicts, and persistent emotional challenges. Unlike acute stress, which is a short-term response to immediate threats and challenges. Chronic stress can develop over an extended period. But when stresses accumulate over time without effective resolution or coping strategies, their cumulative and long-term effects, psychologically and physiologically, their impact can be similar to those associated with acute trauma. And just as significant.

With chronic stresses or “small-t” trauma, your body’s normal healthy activation of its stress response system becomes ongoing and persistent.

The Stress Response:

The stress response is a complex biological process. It involves the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, our fight-flight response, and the release of several stress-related hormones. Including things like adrenaline, epinephrine, and cortisol. When the stress response is prolonged in our body, these stress-related hormones and other chemicals that are released, are active in your body for extended periods of time. This can have a profound physiological effect on your body and lead to increased risk of various health conditions.

Adrenocortical hormone ACT is released by the pituitary gland, in response to stress. So it’s stimulating the release of cortisol from our adrenal glands. The elevated level of this ACT can contribute to the prolonged activation of the stress response itself.

Catecholamines, including adrenaline and noradrenaline, neurotransmitters and hormones that are released into our bodies in response to stress. They play a critical role in the regulation of various physiological processes. Including our cardiovascular system, our metabolism, and our immune function as well. So prolonged elevation of these chemical levels can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disorders metabolic imbalances and further immune dysfunction. 

Vasopressin, also known as antidiuretic hormone, or ADH, is released by the hypothalamus. This plays a crucial role in regulating our balance of water and blood pressure. During periods of stress, vasopress levels may increase leading to water retention and vasoconstriction as can contribute to the development of hypertension and cardiovascular complications over time.

Stress can also influence the secretion of growth hormone which plays an important role in regulating our metabolism, body composition, and tissue repair. Disruption here can contribute to metabolic disorders and impaired immune function.

Are you getting a feeling here that we’ve got some immune challenges going on? 

Here’s how these physical challenges can lead to the symptoms that you might have noticed in your own body:

Persistent physical pain. It’s one of the key indicators of trauma in our body for a long period of time. That physical persistence of pain, that can often include tension headaches, chronic back pain, and unexplained muscle aches. From the perspective of small trauma, the increased muscle tension might be the result of sustained activation of the sympathetic nervous system itself. The continuous muscle tension can lead to muscle fatigue, stiffness, and discomfort. Additionally, the release of stress hormones such as cortisol can exacerbate inflammation and also sensitisation of pain receptors. Amplifying the experience of the physical pain.

Hypertension and cardiovascular disease. When your body is chronically under stress,  the adrenal glands, which release adrenaline and noradrenaline, are working over time. This overproduction can lead to increased heart rate, vasoconstriction, and then that can cause high blood pressure. And potentially that can contribute to hypertension as well [as] cardiovascular complications. Further the prolonged elevation of other stress hormones such as cortisol; and catecholamines, can also lead to the buildup of plaque in our arteries, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes can also come about. Stress can influence the blood sugar levels. Cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline, these stimulate the release of glucose into the bloodstream so that we can have access to more immediate energy for that fight-flight response. That’s fine in the short term, but complicated when it’s prolonged. That can lead to persistent elevated blood sugar levels, and that can potentially influence your insulin resistance, and increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Other gastrointestinal disorders from chronic stress that can disrupt the normal function of our digestive system. Think about it for a second. When we are in fight-flight mode, running away from something, we don’t want energy going into our digestive system. We want it to go into our muscles, so that we can run away, or fight, either or. But when it’s prolonged, reducing the blood flow to the digestive organs can lead to symptoms such as stomach ache, indigestion, reflux, stomach ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, chronic stress can alter the balance of our gut microbiota. These play a crucial role in maintaining your gastrointestinal health, so ultimately persistent stress can compromise your body’s ability to absorb nutrients needed for your well-being.

Compromised immune function. As I’ve been alluding to over this talk, while acute stress can enhance immune function temporarily, prolonged activation of our stress response can suppress our immune system. Making your body more susceptible to infections and illness. Cortisol in particular plays a significant role in regulating the immune response. High levels of cortisol then can hinder the production of cytokines, the immune system’s messenges. Altering the balance of the production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines. This can also lead to a decrease in your immune cell activity and the production of white blood cells. [Ultimately], this can weaken the immune response and compromise your body’s defense against pathogens. [And] increases the risk of immune-related disorders and diseases.

Sleep disorders are another indicator. Persistent stress can disrupt your sleep patterns because you’re on hyper-alert. It can lead to difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving a restful sleep. Even when you do get to sleep. Inadequate sleep can further exacerbate your body’s stress response. One builds on the other. So you’re just not getting the rest that you need. The release of stress hormones, like cortisol, can disrupt the natural circadian rhythm, further contributing to sleep disturbances. 

Additionally, psychological distress and intrusive thoughts related to trauma can lead to conditions such as insomnia, nightmares, and sleep-rated anxiety. All of which obviously, significantly impact your sleep patterns.

Emotional and mental health. Chronic stress can also contribute to the development of emotional and mental health issues. Including anxiety, depression,  irritability, and symptoms of emotional exhaustion; reduced motivation, and diminished sense of well-being.

Understanding the roles of these stress hormones provides a more comprehensive picture physiologically, of the changes that occur during chronic stress and small trauma. The interplay between these hormones and their effects on your organs and the systems in your body highlights the importance of managing your stress effectively so that you can maintain your overall health and well-being.

So thank you for joining me today. If you did get value from this video please like it, share it, and ask any questions in the comments below. So that we can answer them and help you even further.

And now that you are aware of some of the signs of small trauma, and the effects that that can have, join us next time as we look at some ways that you can resolve these issues, and reduce those effects for yourself.

Till then, thanks again.


Sarah xx


ps. To help you even more, I’ve just created a Checklist, to help you Recognise Signs of Chronic Stress and Small Trauma in your body.

Would you like a copy?

Author: Sarah Gowans

About Blossoming Me

BlossomingMe offers a fully integrated approach to your wellbeing. Located on Sydney’s Upper North Shore. Sarah is our Cranio-sacral and Remedial Massage Therapist and health and lifestyle coach. She can help relieve those problematic knots, tightness and other specific ailments to promote a healthy recovery. These complementary massage therapies can be combined to suit your needs, and include: craniosacral therapy, shiatsu, acupressure, reiki, remedial, swedish, and body-mind-massage. 

Our qualified Osteopath, Alexis, offers a drug free, minimally invasive, “hands on” treatment focusing on the musculoskeletal system with its associated muscles, tendons, ligaments, membranes, bones and joints. Alexis takes a functional approach. This means that she focuses on the way a component (body part, tissue or group of tissues) performs its role, as well as the way the body works, performs and integrates as a whole. Our team can support you to improve your posture and therefore your overall health.

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**Disclaimer** The information provided by BlossomingMe, on our website, in our courses, and in our blogs and posts, is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site and social outlets is not, nor intended to be, a substitute for professional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health professional before you make any changes to your health regime, before dealing with new symptoms, and, if something you have read here has raised any questions or concerns regarding your situation.