Effects of Stress on the Body

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Stress is a part of everyday life, and a little stress here and there is nothing to worry about. It’s when stress becomes chronic, though, that it begins to affect both your mental and physical health. If you feel you’re reaching a breaking point, it might be that stress is affecting your health in a negative way.

 

Sometimes, the effects of stress may go unnoticed because people tend to blame chronic pain and discomfort on diseases or other factors. What they may not realize is that the effects of stress on the body are serious, oftentimes even more serious than the actual situation they tend to stress over.

Stress and the body

Stress affects every part of the body, from the musculoskeletal system to the gut. The following are ways stress takes a toll on your physical health:

  • Muscle tension
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines
  • Shortness of breath and rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, heart palpitations, cardiovascular disease
  • Increased inflammation
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Decreased sex drive in men and women
  • Complications with menstruation and pregnancy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping problems
  • Weakened immune system and more frequent colds

Stress and the mind

Although stress has many ways of manifesting itself physically, the mind does not fall behind. In fact, the root cause of many mental health issues is directly related to stress. The following are ways stress can affect the mind:

  • Increased production of cortisol or “stress hormones”
  • Anxiety, depression, nervousness
  • Mental fatigue
  • Irritability, forgetfulness, racing thoughts
  • Lack of motivation
  • Social seclusion
  • Trouble with focus and decision making
  • Substance abuse

How to cope

Chronic stress can contribute to long term issues and can result in major health concerns. If you are experiencing signs of chronic stress, consider making changes in order to feel better. There are many ways to cope including:

  • Talking to a professional therapist who can help you identify triggers and ways of coping
  • Massage therapy
  • Breathing techniques and meditation
  • Relaxing exercises with mental health benefits such as yoga and tai chi
  • Creative therapy

 

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