The Physical Effects of Stress
Stress can have an impact on the body in a number of ways, and while it is usually tied to mental health, it has an effect on our physical health as well. The following are some of the most common physical effects of stress.
Irritable bowel syndrome, chronic stomach aches, and reflux are just a few ways that stress can manifest itself in the gut. When we’re stressed out, our digestive system typically has to work overtime. It’s easy enough to shrug off occasional symptoms—but if they become a regular occurrence, see your doctor.
The endocrine system is made up of organs that secrete hormones into our blood. These hormones enter our bloodstream and target different parts of the body. If we’re feeling stressed out, our endocrine system may be affected by elevated levels of stress hormone cortisol.
When we experience chronic stress, our immune system weakens and can no longer fight off illness as effectively. Chronically stressed individuals could be more susceptible to infections.
It’s common to feel anxious or nervous when going through a stressful situation, which can lead to increased muscle tension. Muscle relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can help ease muscles, allowing for better sleep.
When we’re stressed, our body goes into a fight-or-flight mode. The sympathetic nervous system kicks in, which activates our fight or flight response, also known as stress response. A rush of adrenaline is released and we get that pumping feeling throughout our bodies. Our heart starts to race, pupils dilate and perspiration increases.
When under stress, cortisol—the body’s stress hormone—can impact sleep quality, by effectively putting us into a state of high alert. Sleep deprivation increases the risk of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you are struggling with stress, please seek expert advice.