Lifestyle Patient Awareness

9 Harmful Effects Of Stress On The Body!

How stress affects the body
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Effects Of Stress

Losing your mind as you sit waiting for the traffic to clear, wading your way through a huge crowd in a packed local train, losing that coveted promotion thanks to the age-old office politics – our life is engulfed with stress or rather we should say, stress has besieged our lives.

Whatever may be the stressful situation, our body takes time to react to these changes – at the physical, mental, and emotional level. At every stressful moment, a tiny control tower in the brain called the Hypothalamus instructs the body to release stress hormones. These hormones trigger a ‘fight response’ which takes the form of:

  • An increased heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Increased concentration
  • Mental alertness and
  • A body ready for action

Most amongst us perceive stress negatively, there is actually more to this story. Stress can, in fact, be positive too. Imagine, you have been asked to shoulder additional responsibility in your professional space. How will that impact you? You will become more vigilant, more alert, and make every attempt to sense any upcoming danger. This is your body’s response to positively reacting to this change.

While a small amount of regular stress does more good than harm, it’s in fact chronic stress that harms our body and affects our overall well-being. Here are some symptoms that chronic effects of stress show on one’s health:

Therefore, one of the first body systems that get affected when we are stressed out is our Digestive system.

Stress And The Digestive System

Come stress and our appetite goes for a toss. During this time, the liver produces extra blood sugar to give you an energy boost. Many times, the body is not able to handle this surge in sugar levels and puts itself under the stress of developing Type-2 diabetes.

You also become susceptible to developing acid reflux or heartburn, thanks to an increase in stomach acid.

Stress And The Muscular system

The muscles of our body get tensed when the body is undergoing a stressful encounter. With prolonged periods of stress, the muscles don’t get a chance to relax. Tight and tensed muscles cause body aches, neck and shoulder pain and headaches.

Stress And Sexuality And Reproductive System

Long bouts of stress cause a man’s testosterone levels to drop. Stress can also interfere with sperm production, and cause erectile dysfunction. For women, prolonged periods of stress can affect their menstrual cycle and can lead to irregular, heavy and painful periods.

Stress And Cardiovascular system

Under stress, the heart pumps blood faster. The stress hormones help divert more oxygen to your muscles so that you get more prepared to deal with the stress. But this causes your blood pressure to rise. Thus, chronic stress causes the heart to overwork for too long and with increased blood pressure comes an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Other prevalent effects of stress on our behaviour include:

  • Drug/Alcohol abuse
  • Usage of Tobacco
  • Overeating or Undereating
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress

Responding to your body’s stress can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Here are some simple and healthy ways to reduce stress:

  • Eat and drink healthy –  Plan a balanced diet and stay away from caffeine as much as you can. Caffeine is known to compound stress. Instead, stock your refrigerator with a fresh juice and healthy food. 
  • Meditate, meditate and meditate – Meditation has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress and release hormones that induce happiness and a sense of calm. 
  • Exercise regularly – Apart from the physical health benefits that it comes with, exercising is also a powerful tool for stress relief. Studies show that when you feel good physically, you also feel good mentally and emotionally.
  • Cut down on nicotine and tobacco usage – Nicotine is often referred to as a stress reliever by regular users. Even though at the moment it may seem to reduce the anxiety you are feeling, in the long run, there are some shocking consequences you’d like to avoid. 
  • Take out time for yourself – Allot a ‘Me Time’ and make sure that you adhere to it. The demands of our daily life can take a toll on us and it is important to practice self-care in whichever way it makes you happy. Take out time to do things that genuinely make you happy!
  • Say ‘No’ when you want to – It’s okay to say no to activities that you may not want to pursue at the given moment. It is important to realise your limits and set firm boundaries as and when required. 

Set realistic expectations – We are all running a rat race and the cutthroat competition is bound to get to us at some point. Set goals for yourself that are in accordance with your limits and not what others expect of you.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation

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