It’s totally normal for people to experience stress, and the body is designed to cope with small amounts of it. When stress becomes more chronic, however, its effects on your overall health can become a serious issue.
While stress has the potential to produce negative side effects on your physical body, it can also wreak havoc on your mental state. And if not managed correctly, stress can lead to undesired changes in your daily routine.
Learning to recognize the signs of stress is vital in order to treat it, and stop its harmful effects from progressing. So the following is an overview of the many ways stress can negatively impact you. Should you find you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consider whether stress may be the cause.
How Stress Affects Your Body
There is a strong direct link between your brain and your stomach, and stress can quickly cause a multitude of digestion problems. Diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, and nausea are just some of the unpleasant symptoms you may face under stress. People with IBS may notice an increase in flare-ups.
Because your immune system and hormone balance may become impaired during times of stress, the largest organ in your body can be negatively affected. Although conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema may not be caused by stress, they can be made worse, and you may find your skin takes longer to heal from wounds and damage.
Aches & Pains
Your body tries to fight stress by releasing hormones while increasing your heart rate. This can cause your body’s muscles to stiffen, leading to muscle cramps and aching joints. You may also notice tension headaches that grow into migraines which may stick around until the stress is dealt with.
The stress on your heart along with decreased motivation to exercise can lead to heart disease or engaging in unhealthy habits which lead to heart problems.
The effects of stress on your sleeping habits along with your body releasing cortisol to fight stress can lead to exhaustion. Our daily exercise may suffer, which in turn causes us to be even more tired.
There have been studies which show people who were stressed were twice as likely to catch a virus or disease. Infections become more of a risk the longer your stress holds on.
How Stress Affects Your Mind
Some types of stress can not only lead to you easily forgetting past events or stored information, but can also make it more difficult to generate new memories. This is because stress impacts the area of your brain where your memories are stored.
Although short-term stress can be beneficial by motivating you to accomplish a goal or meet a deadline, chronic stress can have just the opposite effect. As stress continues to impact your health, you may find your desire for hobbies and general activity engagement will decline. It becomes difficult to enjoy things when you are feeling physically and mentally ill.
Long-term stress can change the chemical makeup of your brain making it harder to control your emotions. As stress begins to impact your eating and sleeping habits, your emotions become even more pronounced and take a mind of their own.
Anxiety can be a very harmful emotion brought on by stress whereby you develop irrational fear, worry, and apprehension. You may experience dizzy spells or panic attacks, which can lead to becoming reclusive.
All of the negative side effects that stress causes in your body can lead to a state of depression. Your physical ailments, social detachment, exhaustion, and increased difficulty dealing with emotions are all things that can contribute to a depressed state or may make those prone to depression more susceptible to relapses.
How Stress Affects Your Daily Routine
Stress can cause either a decrease or an increase in appetite. Those who begin eating less may see a sudden unhealthy drop in weight where they can become malnourished and miss out on essential vitamins and minerals to keep the body running smoothly.
Those who eat more while stressed often make poor food choices like binging on comfort food which are high in sugar and fat. This can lead to sudden weight gain and obesity if the stress is not managed.
Some may attempt to deal with their stress by replacing food with alcohol or drugs which can of course cause serious long-term side effects. Stress should never be managed by the use of either unless a drug is prescribed by a professional doctor.
Stress, especially when caused by an overloaded schedule, can cause us to drop exercise from our daily routine to save time. Even if time constraints aren’t a problem, stress can cause aches and pains which make exercise less enjoyable, which makes us less prone to head to the gym.
Decreasing your daily exercise will impact your physical and mental health which may create even more stress.
The more stress we are under, the more we tend to retreat into our own world. We tend to disassociate with our friends and family as well as abstain from participating in social gatherings. Stress causes us to become irritable and short tempered, making us not pleasant to be around. You may notice others backing away even if you choose not to withdraw. This can be harmful since we may need people more than ever for support during times of stress.
The effect stress has on our physical reproductive systems such as erectile dysfunction and hormone imbalance can lead to a decreased desire for intimacy. Along with feeling physically unwell for sex, our mind begins to simply lose the craving for it as well.
Your body needs sleep in order to heal and restore its chemical balance. It needs 7-9 hours of it. Without adequate sleep, you put yourself at a higher risk for developing a wide array of health problems.
Weight gain, weakened immunity, and heart disease are just some of the problems which may arise from a prolonged lack of quality sleep. Stress causes your brain to constantly run which can easily lead to insomnia where you may find it hard to get to bed on time and may wake up continually throughout the night. This can lead to brain fog during the day and can even cause dangerous hallucinations.