How Stress Affects Your Health

Although we know stress can be a huge burden on our personal lives, we often don’t think about how stress physically manifests itself in our bodies. For example, it is very easy for most people to recognize that they are stressed, but most people don’t even realize that the various physical signs that they are experiencing are due to said stress. Having a good idea of how your body reacts to stress is a very terrific way to recognize stress more easily and put a more quantitative measurement on how much stress is affecting you. After all, just saying you are very stressed or only slightly stressed is a lot less descriptive than being able to say that stress is causing me to lose hours of sleep every day, or giving you headaches. Here, we lay out all of the physical symptoms that you may see as a result of stress.

Common Physical Symptoms

Stress is so frequently for a lot of people that they don’t actually realize that some of the typical symptoms they get on a daily basis are directly caused by the stress in their lives. Things like having headaches or fatigue are commonly linked to stress simply because your mind is so heavily focused on the stress in your life. You could even experience an upset stomach if the stress is significant, simply because the release of stress hormones affects the rest of your body in unpredictable ways!

Being stressed often causes you to have difficulty falling asleep at night. Because you are unable to stop thinking about the stress and the burden it has on your life, you aren’t able to fall asleep as easily as if you were stress-free and had nothing on your mind when you are lying in bed. During the day, a similar mechanism happens while you are at work or doing other important tasks that require mental effort. The constant thinking about the stress will make it much more difficult to concentrate on other tasks. As you can see, from these two symptoms alone, stress can potentially seriously affects your health nearly 24/7!

A more psychological symptom that can manifest itself in the way you interact with others is irritability. Simple interactions from friends and family can potentially set you off and get you angry at them. Because your mind is constantly worrying about some external factor that is causing stress, you feel you don’t have the time to properly interact and engage with others around you, making you more irritable when people do try talking to you.

As you can see, these symptoms are not ideal and actually can have a big effect on your daily lives until the stress is eliminated or managed and you can start living again. However, much more significant health issues can develop if you let stress remain for too long of a time.

Stress can lead to more serious health conditions

When stress persists for a long period of time, this is called chronic stress. And while regular bouts of stress here and there can actually be a good thing to help you get important stuff done, having chronic stress can lead to health problems that are much more severe. On a general level, the constant release of stress hormones can cause your body to age more quickly, not to mention making it more prone to sickness and disease. More specifically any one of the following conditions may occur:

Depression

Having to constantly worry about something, especially when it involves an important part of your life can possibly cause someone to go into depression. The sense of feeling like no matter what you do, you will never get out of the rut you are may start off as a small afterthought, but when the stress that is causing those thoughts is left unchecked, it can lead to full-fledged depression in a person.

Heart Conditions

Most of these conditions are due to the hormonal imbalance that stress leaves you with over long periods of time. Heartburn is much more common, as well as high-blood pressure. If things really get bad however, you may be faced with heart disease or even a heart attack, all due to the slow but constant buildup of stress in your life. While these cases are fairly uncommon, it is important to realize that they are a possibility for everyone who is dealing with significant stress.

Problems with Sexual Health

Constantly being stress can actually change your sex drive, in a bad way (at least for those who love sex!) Being stressed can simply lessen how often or how badly you want to have sex or to pleasure yourself. The sad part about that is that having sexual intercourse or pleasuring yourself are to great ways to relieve and manage stress.

For women, being stressed for too long can cause fertility problems as well, again simply because the constant release of stress hormones affects the rest of your body in adverse ways.

Weight and Skin Changes

When stressed for a long period of time, you may experience significant weight gain or weight loss. Some people will overeat to drown out the worry that comes with stress. Other people may eat significantly less, not being able to eat due to constantly thinking about the stress in your life. Both cases however are very unhealthy, regardless of if you were trying to lose weight or gain weight in the first place – such physical transformations should be done through healthy diet and exercise.

Another side effect of your hormonal imbalance due to constant stress is having skin problems as well. Things like acne, eczema and psoriasis are all very common with people who are stressed for long stretches of time, especially if you have a history of such skin problems. While not technically a major health risk, having such skin problems can lower your self-esteem and raise your stress levels even more as a result. This is especially true for people who thrive off their public image and social presence.

Never neglect the effect that stress can have on your health

When left unchecked, stress can definitely have adverse effects on your overall health and well-being. In the short term, you may have difficulty sleeping or concentrating while at work, along with general headaches, fatigue and irritability. But if you don’t eliminate or manage your stress over the long-term, the hormonal imbalance can lead to depression, significant heart conditions, and other major undesirable changes to your body. It is so important to never forget that significant stress is causing a damaging effect on your health, whether you consciously recognize it or not. As long as you actively recognize this fact, you will have much more drive and resolve to go out and actually manage your stress and find ways to reduce it!