5 Surprising Things Stress Can Do to Your Body

You just got off a terrible meeting, your boss gave you an impossible deadline for the next project, your team is pushing you to make extra hours, and you still need to pick up the kids at school. Your body is in a “fight or flight response.” Your stress levels are high, you feel your breath get quicker and even feel your heart beating faster than usual. Although this is all a natural response from your brain, if you submit yourself to this kind of situation too often, chances are your health will be at risk.

Unfortunately, stress is a common issue in current society. According to a study, at least 25{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} of Americans claim they are dealing with high-stress symptoms, and 50{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} say to suffer from moderated stress levels. The causes for stress may vary, but 46{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} say it is caused by an excessive workload.

Are you stressed?

A small level of stress isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it can help you deal with different situations, such as having extra attention during an event planning, enhancing your focus for a new job or motivate you to improve your performance. However, too much stress can affect your health, both mental and physical.

Some persistent stress symptoms might include:

•    You might get easily agitated, frustrated or have mood swings

•    Feel overwhelmed, have difficulty in relaxing

•    Depression, low self-esteem, irritability

•    Constant worrying, racing thoughts

•    Inability to focus, poor judgment

•    Insomnia

What stress can do to your body

The hypothalamus is a tiny but powerful controller in your brain. It is this controller that “says” to your brain to release stress hormones into your system, which triggers your body to an emergency state. It will affect all your systems.

Obesity and eating disorders

Hunger might be increased during tough times, mostly caused by a hormone called cortisol, which is released during stressful periods. When you ingest food, it is like having an instant reward. Especially if you go with carbs and sugar. These two types of food tell your brain to release a chemical called serotonin, responsible for promoting instant better mood and energy. The problem is, this won’t solve your stress and might even make you feel guilty for overeating.

Another side effect is just not eating at all. Some gastrointestinal problems might keep you away from food, and in some cases, can even trigger severe eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. These both disorders tend to be a coping system, as a way to get back control of life.

If you are suffering from one of these problems, specialists recommend trying a few healthy ways to handle. One of them is keeping a food diary. You can write down how much you have been eating daily and what might have triggered your urge to eat, or not eat. You can also add exercises in your routine, meditation and try out some comfort food recipes.

Skin and hair problems

Your skin and hair reflect how healthy you are. High levels of stress might make your skin more sensitive and reactive. It could also affect its ability to regenerate and heal. Skin problems might be aggravated, such as psoriasis, eczema, and herpes. Hair loss is also associated with stress. Trichotillomania and Alopecia Areata are some of the most related problems.

Some possible ways to cope with this problem is t: practice some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and yoga, eat a healthy diet, treat your skin and hair with care and try to keep away from negative people. Your environment and people around can add up a lot to your stress levels.

Gastrointestinal problems

The gut-brain connection is something to take seriously. It can link anxiety to stomach and vice versa. Heartburn, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and constipation might be a few of the short-term digestive problems caused by stress. In the long term, stress might exacerbate existing conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stomach ulcers, indigestion, and constant nausea.

This is one of the most challenging problems to handle, mainly because it might provoke pain and discomfort. Try to understand what makes you stressed during the day and try to find a solution for that. You can also talk to people about your concerns, suffer in silence might add up to your pain. Remember to eat well and take breaks during your day. Don’t be afraid to make changes. It is your health at stake.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Stress can lead to excessive jaw clenching or teeth grinding at night. This can lead to aching pain and complications that are even more serious, which might also raise your stress level. Bruxism can cause teeth sensitivity, jaw pain, headaches, and tooth erosion.

Besides working on your mental health state, to reduce stress levels, you can also use a night mouth guard. Mouth guards can be customized to fit your mouth for better comfort, protecting your teeth from damages. It also relaxes muscles and redistributes occlusal forces.

Heart and Lungs problems

Stress hormones might affect your respiratory and cardiovascular systems too. The distribution of oxygen-rich blood can be jeopardized, maximizing issues such as asthma and emphysema. Your heart also might have to work double to pump enough blood through your body, raising the chances of a stroke or heart attack.

If you are constantly feeling tired and out of breath, don’t put yourself at risk and ask for professional help. Therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists are the professionals that can help you find the right path to cope with stress. Sometimes, you just need to talk to someone outside your environment, who will be able to give you serious advice. Stress-related problems can escalate quickly and evolve to severe mental health issues such as depression and panic attacks.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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