Top 9 Effects Of Stress On Your Body & How To Prevent Them?

In This Article

Stress is a natural mental and physical reaction to life experiences. Anything from daily responsibilities such as family and work to serious life events including the death of your loved one, a new diagnosis or war can lead to stress. For short-term or immediate situations, stress can be good for you. However, too much stress may be detrimental. Chronic and excessive stress can affect your physical and emotional health. Besides, chronic stress can result in a variety of symptoms including depression, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, and irritability. This article describes the effects of stress on your body and some of the best ways to reduce or prevent it.

Top 9 Effects Of Stress On Your Body & How To Prevent Them?

I. Effects Of Stress

1. Impact Your Sleep Cycle

Stress affects your sleep quality and causes disturbed sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your physical and mental health. Besides, it can cause chronic health issues and impact the quality of life. Apart from that, stress can cause hyperarousal that upsets the balance between wakefulness and sleep, thus causing sleep problems. According to a 2012 study, excessive stress will activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and sympatho-adrenomedullary systems, which affects your sleep quality [1]. Thus, when you experience acute stress, practicing deep breathing, listening to soft music or reading a book before your bedtime can assist you in relaxing and sleeping better.

2. Cause Headaches

Stress can lead to a headache. This mainly occurs because of the “flight or fight” chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine) that your body produces during stress. It also makes the muscles tense up, which leads to more pain. Also, stress is mainly associated with tension headaches that are often accompanied by a tightening sensation in your neck muscles and a heavy feeling behind the eyes and in the head. A 2015 study indicated that there was an association between headache frequency and stress intensity [2]. You cannot avoid daily stress, but you can keep your stress under control to prevent headaches.

3. Weaken Immune System

During stress, the level of cortisol in your body can alter immunity responses. It even decreases the ‘good’ prostaglandin production that helps support immune function. People with chronic stress are more prone to viral illnesses such as the common cold, the flu, and other infections. It can also increase the risk of developing other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases. Apart from that, an increased cortisol level may affect the reproductive system and the digestive system. To control stress, practice meditation, yoga, massage, laughter, and aromatherapy. These have a positive impact on your immune system.

4. Make You Gain Weight

Stress may be a reason behind overweight or obese. When you’re under stress, your body releases a hormone named cortisol that makes you crave high-fat foods and sugar. According to a 2007 study, chronic life stress may be associated with weight gain [3]. When you’re stressed, practice deep breathing or do meditation to reduce stress.

5. Impair Digestion

Stress can upset the digestive system and cause chronic inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract due to the fast heart rate, the rush of hormones, and rapid breathing. Plus, it can result in stomach pain, indigestion, bloating, vomiting, and nausea. According to a review in 2000, stressful life events are linked to chronic digestive system disorders, such as gastro-esophageal reflux disease, functional gastrointestinal disorders, peptic ulcer disease, and inflammatory bowel disease [4]. Gastrointestinal problems and stress have a bidirectional and complex relationship because stress can cause or worsen gastrointestinal symptoms.

6. Hurt Your Heart

Too much stress isn’t good for your heart. It can increase the chance of developing heart disease, irregular heartbeats, chest pain or high blood pressure. Persistent chronic stress and repeated acute stress can also contribute to inflammation in your circulatory system, particularly in the coronary arteries. Consequently, this increases the chance of a heart attack. In diabetes patients, stress can cause the levels of blood glucose to rise that in turn affects your heart health. Besides, the way you deal with stress can also affect your heart health. Lots of people respond to the problem of stress by not exercising, overeating, drinking excessively or smoking. However, all these factors are bad for your heart health.

7. Cause Hair Loss

According to a 2003 study, stress causes hair loss by affecting the cycling activity of hair follicles [5]. Another study shows that stress may be the main cause of unexplained hair loss in women and men. The hair loss problem is a normal response to stress. Your hair tends to come back to its healthy state when stress gets under control.

8. Affect Brain Tissue

Any kind of stress can harm the capacity to use cognitive techniques known to manage anxiety and fear. According to a study in 2012, stress can shrink the brain and reduce the ability of a person to cope with adversity [6]. It can even lead to problems linked to leaning and concentration ability. In addition to this, chronic stress is not good for your brain health. Another study published in the PLOS ONE journal in 2013 showed that occupational stress could be related to regional reductions in the brain tissue volumes [7]. Thus, it’s best to keep stress under control to help guard your brain against any kind of damage.

9. Accelerate Skin Aging

When you are under stress, stay away from frowning or making faces because it can cause skin aging. Stress acts as a contributor to skin aging and accelerated cellular. It may lead to premature aging sings such as wrinkles, crow’s feet, uneven skin tone, sagging skin, and altered pigmentation. Over time, stress results in a breakdown of the collagen, enhances the release of cytokines or pro-inflammatory mediators, and damages DNA. All these factors can trigger premature aging signs. According to a 2014 study, stress activates skin mast cells that in turn releases inflammatory factors and stress hormones [8]. To keep your skin youthful and beautiful, take steps to keep the level of stress under control.

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