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 . 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 . 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 . 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 . 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 . 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 . 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 . 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 . To keep your skin youthful and beautiful, take steps to keep the level of stress under control.
II. Some Easy Ways To Reduce Stress
1. Decrease Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is mainly found in tea, coffee, energy drinks, and chocolate. High doses can increase stress and anxiety. Consider reducing the intake of caffeine if you see that it makes you anxious or jittery.
2. Consider Supplements
Some supplements promote anxiety and stress reduction.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: According to a study, medical students who took omega-3 supplements experienced a 20 percent reduction in stress and anxiety symptoms .
- Lemon Balm: Lemon balm belongs to the mint family, which is well known for its anti-anxiety effects.
- Valerian: Valerian root exhibits the tranquilizing effect that is a popular sleep aid. It also contains valerenic acid, which helps to alter gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors to reduce anxiety.
- Green Tea: Green tea provides health benefits thanks to its polyphenol antioxidants. It increases serotonin levels, thus lowering stress and anxiety.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine to cope with anxiety and stress.
Some supplements can have side effects or interact with medications, so you must consult a doctor before using them.
When you are laughing, it is hard to feel anxious. It is good for your health and may help to lower stress. Laughter can also aid in improving your mood and immune system. A 2013 study found that laughter may decrease stress and improve natural killer cell activity . So, try to watch a funny movie or hang out with your friends who can make you laugh.
4. Spend Time With A Pet
Taking care of a pet may assist you in reducing stress and improving your mood. A 2012 study indicated that interacting with pets can be helpful in releasing a brain chemical called oxytocin that enhances a positive mood . Besides, having a pet helps to give you purpose, keep you active, and provide companionship, thus relieving stress.
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness can help battle anxiety and stress. There are some methods for increasing mindfulness such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, yoga, and meditation. An article shows that mindfulness can help to increase self-esteem that in turn minimizes symptoms of depression and anxiety .
Exercise acts as a great stress reliever. It is ideal for reducing the stress hormones and increasing the good hormones in the body. It also assists in improving your mood and distracting you for daily worries. When you’re under stress, try making time to perform different exercises. You can take a short walk, dance, swim, or play some sports. Also, you can do yoga to manage your stress because yoga acts as a meditation that is beneficial for calming both your body and mind.
III. Natural Remedies For Stress
1. Chamomile Tea
Why This Works
The calming and soothing nature of chamomile has a sedative impact on your central nervous system. Besides, it is effective at relaxing the muscles, promoting better sleep, and easing anxiety. A 2007 study showed that taking warm chamomile jelly had physiological and psychological effects in humans and enhanced sleep consciousness .
- Dried chamomile – two teaspoons
- Hot water – 1 cup
- Raw honey
How To Do
- Add the chamomile tea to the hot water.
- Cover and steep for about ten minutes.
- Strain and add some honey to it.
- Consume this chamomile tea per day to combat stress.
- Fresh chamomile flowers
- Or chamomile essential oil
How To Do
- Add some drops of chamomile essential oil or fresh chamomile flowers to your warm bathwater.
- Soak in this water for getting quick relief from stress.
2. Holy Basil
Why This Works
Holy basil functions as a great anti-stress agent and is also known for enhancing overall health. It comes with the main phytochemicals such as oleanolic acid, rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid, eugenol, linalool, carvacrol, germacrene, and elemene, all of which are responsible for its antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Moreover, it is an adaptogenic herb that helps to encourage natural response of the body to emotional and physical stress. During time of stress, it helps your body function properly. A study done in 20006 indicated that holy basil could guard rat heart against chronic restraint stress-induced changes .
- Fresh holy basil leaves
- Boiling water – 1 cup
- Raw honey
How To Do
- Put some fresh holy basil leaves in the boiling water.
- Cover and steep for around five minutes.
- Strain and add a little honey to it.
- Sip the tea slowly.
- You can also chew the fresh holy basil leaves two times daily.
IV. Easy Tips To Avoid Stress
- Regular exercise to manage stress and its side effects.
- It’s crucial to identify what is causing stress and establish a plan for coping with it.
- Manage stress by practicing deep breathing on a regular basis. Deep breathing can decrease both emotional and physical stress.
- Make time for meditation. Just 10 minutes of meditation every day is highly beneficial for your health.
- Get about eight hours of sound sleep every day. Sleep is important for your overall health, and helps you to battle day-to-day stressful situations.
- Eat healthy foods such as protein and whole grains to fight stress and improve your mood.
I hope that all the information in this post will be helpful for you. For other articles, please visit our main News & Facts page. Do you know other effects of stress on your body? Don’t hesitate to share with us. All of the contents provided in this article are for informational and educational purposes. We recommend you consult a healthcare professional to determine which method is appropriate for you.