Last updated on September 15th, 2023 at 08:49 am
“It's important to remember that having a thought doesn't automatically make it a fact.”
– Dr. Joe Dispenza.
The mind controls the body, and all emotions, sensations, and thoughts originate from the brain. This is why we can imagine a certain event, and the emotions that would be present during that moment are created just from the thought of it happening.
Similarly, when stressed, your mind will divide the load and stress to your whole body. When we perceive a threat, our body releases stress hormones into the bloodstream due to our fight-or-flight response. This response is perfect for immediate, acute stress in our environment. But what happens when the threat is prolonged? Author Robert M. Sapolsky talks more about this in his award-winning book, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers.
For instance, you may be stressed about the workload in your office. Now, the work is in the office, and instead of seeking a solution to the problems, your mind will start disturbing your heart, weight, skin, and other body functions. The effects of stress do not stop there and continue to damage your overall health and well-being.
The good news is that it does not have to be like this. There are powerful coping strategies available to help us get through life with minimal chronic stress. Read on to learn more!
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1. Heart Problems
If your mind gives you awareness, your heart lets you keep that by pumping blood 24/7. Even your brain cannot survive without the heart.
The stress issues faced by your heart are known as chronic stress. It is caused due to prolonged and continuing stress.
Chronic stress may span from weeks to years. When we encounter stress, our bodies release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which trigger the "fight-or-flight" response.
The fight-or-flight response is the impulse of your body to deal with direct and sudden threats. It can become chronic and lead to certain negative effects on your health and well-being. Some of these threats include heart conditions and high blood pressure.
Participating in regular physical activity is linked with lower levels of stress and improved cardiovascular health. Your ability to deal with the heart difficulties that stress has generated can be improved by going for a walk first thing in the morning and doing some light exercise in the evening.
In addition, after you begin an exercise routine, you'll observe that your stress levels begin to decrease. Your heart will work smoother to pump more blood to the body, and as a result, your lungs will receive a better supply of oxygen. Your physical being will experience less weight and tension as a result of this strategy. In addition, enough sleep is an essential stress-relieving treatment.
Lastly, evening exercise is highly recommended to cope with stress levels. It is because if you tire your body out during the evening, you will try to go to bed early. You will have more tie to heal and rest, and when you get up early in the morning, you will have more time to yourself.
As stated earlier, sleep is a much-needed tool to reduce your body's stress levels. Insomnia takes away that option, and you must cope ASAP. Insomnia is basically a sleep disorder where you are unable to sleep. Stress is a major cause and can lead to Insomnia which can further cause numerous health-damaging conditions.
Furthermore, if you have been experiencing Insomnia for less than three months, this condition is called short-term Insomnia. Many types of stress can cause this type of condition. Some of the major causes are:
- Financial loss.
- Death of a family or friend.
- Work-related issues.
- A recently revealed medical condition.
Other types of Insomnia are chronic Insomnia and Sleep Apnea.
To cope with Insomnia, you must establish a regular sleep routine, incorporate relaxation techniques before bedtime, and create a sleep-friendly environment. Also, taking some time off for exercise is vital in case of Insomnia.
Incorporating exercise will exhaust you, and relaxation techniques will aid you in reducing the effects of stress on the body. Controlled-breathing and other relaxation techniques can help you deal with stress, eat healthily, and exercise regularly.
To have a decent night's rest, controlling your stress levels and including stress-reducing practices in your daily routine is important. Maintaining a good work-life balance is crucial, as is stopping yourself from taking stress personally.
3. Weight Gain
Effects of stress on the body also include weight gain. You might not believe it initially, but it is true, and the connection between weight gain and stress is real.
Stress eating is the major cause of weight gain. But why does stress eating occur? The answer is due to the stress hormones which cause food cravings.
In reality, there is no such thing as 'comfort food.' It is simply excessive food that is causing weight gain.
In addition, fats and sweets seem very friendly and the only food option when stressed. In the case of long-term stress conditions, weight gain can become deadly.
Besides exercise and breathing exercises, mindful eating and a balanced diet can help manage stress-induced weight fluctuations.
Gone are the days when people only ate when they were hungry. Today we eat because of many different reasons.
So, when unconsciously you open your fridge, pause and think - do I need to eat or drink that? There is a high probability that you are trying to eat out of stress - not that your body needs it.
Controlling your cravings and eating a balanced diet is the only way to reduce this kind of stress and avoid gaining excessive weight.
4. Digestive Issues
We all have experienced short bursts of stomach pains right before or after a stressful moment. For instance, most people feel this way before an interview or presentation.
This sudden stress response causes digestion suppression which may slow the stomach muscles' contractions, thus slowing the digestion process.
Furthermore, if this continues for longer, your stomach can become upset. Stress can trigger issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcers.
A balanced diet and regular workout can help manage these symptoms. Stress management therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be beneficial.
In addition, slow breathing exercises also help your body and stomach relax. This sense of relaxation travels through your body and can help you eliminate stress.
Other relaxation and meditating techniques like yoga and meditation can also help your body to refrain from responding to stress. They divert your mind from the problems that are causing stress.
In addition, you must not skip meals and take a few snacks and breaks throughout your day.
Writing a diary or journal is another effective method of relieving stress levels. When you write, you talk in your journal and express your worries and problems.
Finally, you may consult the doctor for medical therapy or treatment if it worsens.
5. Weakened Immune System
A weak immune system means you are vulnerable to diseases and infections. According to an article published/printed by American Psychological Association, extended stress conditions can greatly weaken your immune system. The primary cause is the decreasing white blood cells due to the increasing stress levels. White blood cells or lymphocytes fight infections and diseases within your body.
In short, stress can lower your body's immunity, making you more susceptible to infections.
The best strategy is to strengthen your immune system. The effects of stress on the body might be making it weak, but you can support it and feel energized soon.
- Start with regular exercise.
- Take a healthy diet.
- Sleep well.
- Don't smoke or drink.
- Perform meditation and try to get rid of stress.
- Always wash your hands before you eat.
6. Mental Health Problems
The effects of stress on the body start in your head, so naturally, mental health problems are to be expected. These mental problems are much more dangerous and devastating to your well-being.
Stress directly targets your emotional well-being. Continuing stress levels can lead to various mental issues, some of which are:
- Anxiety Disorders - These include social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobias. You may also experience excessive worry, restlessness, irritability, and physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.
- Depression - Long-term stress can increase the risk of developing depression. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating are common symptoms of depression.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Experiencing traumatic or highly stressful events can lead to PTSD. Typically people who have experienced accidents or other unfortunate happenings get this disorder. It is a 100% mental condition and can have severe health risks. Patients with PTSD must seek professional help.
- Burnout - Professional and caregiver burnout can result from prolonged exposure to chronic stress in either the workplace or the caring role. Depression, apathy, and a lack of pride in one's work are all symptoms of burnout.
- Substance Abuse - Some people may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of dealing with pressures in their lives. Substance misuse can exacerbate preexisting mental health issues and lead to addiction.
- Cognitive Difficulties - Memory, focus, and the ability to make sound decisions are all cognitive qualities that chronic stress can negatively impact. It could become difficult to focus on work and make reasonable decisions.
- Mood Swings - Mood fluctuations caused by stress make it harder to maintain emotional stability.
If you or someone you know is experiencing significant distress, it's important to contact a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor. There are online therapy options like BetterHelp.com that could also be a significant resource.
In addition, if you have mild symptoms, it is better to talk with a friend or a family member about your problems.
You could even start a journaling practice to help you cope with mild problems. Keeping a gratitude journal has many benefits. Regularly recognizing and noting down positive aspects of life can shift focus from negative thoughts or events, reducing the risk of depression and anxiety.
Try to adopt a different lifestyle and change your current circle of people.
Moreover, it is better to start coping with stress in its early stages. If prolonged, it can have destructive effects on you and your relationships.
7. Skin Conditions
Stress can significantly impact the skin and worsens or triggers various skin conditions. The skin is closely attached to the nervous system, and emotional stress can manifest physically on the skin's surface.
Here are some common skin conditions due to stress:
- Alopecia Areata.
- Itchy Skin.
It's worth noting that stress might not be the direct cause of many skin issues, but it can certainly aggravate them. Scratching, picking, and other stress-related skin habits might aggravate existing skin conditions.
Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are effective stress management strategies to help patients cope with their symptoms. It can also help to consult a dermatologist regularly and stick to a strict skincare regimen. The physical manifestations of stress, such as acne, can be managed by implementing the following strategies:
- Do things to relieve stress.
- Exercising regularly.
- Please rest enough.
- Proper nutrition.
- Care for the Skin.
- Try to Find Help.
A dermatologist or other qualified healthcare expert should evaluate and treat stress-related skin disorders that persist or significantly reduce the quality of life.
How do you know if you have a weak immune system?
- You have a weak immune system if you have the following signs:
- You always catch a cold.
- Your wounds heal much slower than a normal person's.
- Your stomach is upset often.
- You are often tired.
- You are often sick.
How can I make my immune system stronger?
You can improve your immunity by following these tips:
- Exercise regularly.
- Keep a check on your carbs and protein intake.
- Quit drinking and smoking.
- Watch your weight.
- Reduce stress.
I am always feeling stressed; what must I do?
Firstly, try to find the reason behind your increased stress levels. Secondly, try doing the following:
- Perform slow breathing exercises and meditate.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking at all costs.
- Sleep well.
- Talk to a friend or a family member who listens.
- Change your usual circle of people and experiment.
- Eat a balanced diet and take a light dinner.
After reading this detailed blog post, you understand how devastating prolonged stress can be. Everyone agrees that you cannot be a human and a stress-free person at the same time. However, you can learn to cope with it and train yourself to minimize it.
There are numerous effects of stress on the body, including but not limited to heart problems, insomnia, weight gain, weak immunity, skin conditions, and mental health problems.
Finally, to cope with these effects of stress on the body, you need to take proper sleep and a balanced diet. In addition, you must refrain from stress eating, substance abuse, drinking, and smoking. Meditating techniques like yoga and slow breathing exercises can greatly improve your mood, thus reducing stress levels.
What is your thought on the effects of stress on the body? Did we miss something important? Please leave a comment below to start a helpful discussion.
Thanks for the Read, and Good Luck!