5 Facts of How Stress Affects Your Health
Updated: May 28
… and what you can do about its damaging effects on your health.
You may be aware of the effects of stress when you ARE stressed.
Things like how we feel and react
in traffic jams
when the boss calls you in her office for an unexpected meeting
The power gets cuts off when you thought you HAD paid the bill
But are you aware of the effects of chronic or ongoing stress on your health?
Things like digestive issues are tied to chronic stress. So are reproductive diseases.
Some reactions continue “behind the scenes” in our bodies AFTER the traffic jam, the unexpected meeting, or the bill finally getting paid.
Let's briefly look at what stress is. Then we'll take a closer look at health issues related to chronic stress.
In the simplest of terms, stress is our body's way of reacting (physically, mentally, or emotionally) to any pressure (good or bad) put on us. Check out this blog for a closer look at stress.
I think you've probably heard of Fight or Flight. Fight or Flight is the body's self-preservation system that allows us to "fight off" or "run away" from an attack.
In our modern society, our minds and bodies don't differentiate between a real threat (to our lives) versus a perceived threat to our way of life (money, prestige, the comfort of living, etc.).
Someone pulling out in front of us in traffic and then going 30 mph isn't a real threat to our existence. Maybe to our pride. Or our rightful place in the line of traffic but not in our existence.
(I'm not referring to a near accident. I'm referring to there was plenty of room for us to apply the brake- but we didn't want them in front of us going 30 mph.
However, our reaction to someone pulling out in front of us-- causing us to slow down, be late, get in our way, etc.,-- can cause health issues. If it's our default reaction to get upset in traffic- especially if it's everyday accordance.
Most of us have been sheltering at home - and maybe not working. We're concerned about our finances, and we're worried about our health and the health of our loved ones.
It's our negative actions and responses to the stress around us that threaten our health.
Let me explain.
Chronic stress is being in the 'Fight or Flight" response for an extended period of time.
It could be daily. Several times a day. Weekly.
The point is - chronic stress is ongoing, and you are in the "Fight or Flight" more than you are in the "Relaxation" Response.
Being in that constant state of 'fight or flight' causes havoc with our bodies.
Inside and out.
Havoc- noun, widespread destruction.
verb, lay waste to; devastate.
You may be thinking, “Missy, really ‘havoc’? Didn’t ya go overboard just a bit with that word choice?”
Well, check out the information below from WebMD. I think it will help prove my point.
WebMD.com lists the symptoms of stress.
EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS: Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody. Feeling overwhelmed, lonely, worthless, and depressed. Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind. Avoiding others
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS: Low energy. Headaches. Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. Aches, pains, and tense muscles. Chest pain and rapid heartbeat. Insomnia. Frequent colds and infections.
COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS OF STRESS: Constant worrying. Racing thoughts. Forgetfulness and disorganization. Inability to focus. Poor judgment Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side.
BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS: Changes in appetite -- either not eating or eating too much. Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities. Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail-biting, fidgeting, and pacing.
And in the same article, it lists the diseases or health problems from stress.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF STRESS ON HEALTH
-Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
-Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke -Obesity and other eating disorders
-Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
-Digestive problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
The American Psychological Association lists the following as stress effects with female health.
Female Health problems- Menstruation, sexual desire, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause, and diseases of the reproductive system
Let’s pause for a moment. You may be getting stressed about this ‘stress’ stuff.
Let’s switch on the Relaxation Response and turn down the ‘Fight or Flight” response some of you may be having right about now.
Take 3 deep breaths and exhale slowly.
Think about how you are being proactive- right now - finding out about the damaging effects of stress on your body -- and mind -- so that you can do something about it.
Decide to take action using the stress less steps below.
I’ve given you a lot of (maybe scary) information about the negative side effects of stress.
We’re not going to stay here in the doom and gloom of stress. We’re going to DO something about chronic ongoing stress.
Starting right now. (Well, actually, if you did the breathing exercise above then you did do something about stress.)
Yep. It really is that simple. Go back and do it if you skipped over it. I’ll wait.
By doing simple stress-relieving techniques you ARE being proactive about stress.
Here's a list of simple things you can do to stop stress in its track.
Go for a walk.
Imagine a 'happy' place.
Visualize yourself calm and in control.
While practicing a simple deep breathing exercise like the one above, count to 5 (or 10 or 20) to allow yourself the time to calm down.
Respond with kind assertive words.
Post encouraging, uplifting, and positive notes around your house.
Eat healthy foods
By being proactive and making health-promoting choices you can stop and in some cases even reverse the damaging effects of stress on your health.
Constant or ongoing stress can lead to health issues.
Practicing simple stress relieving techniques regularly helps to undo the damaging effects of stress on your health.
Deep breathing is a quick way to switch on the Relaxation Response and helps to calm us down.
Carpe Diem (make the most of the present time)
Here are some steps you can do -- right now.
Schedule in stress relieving activities to your daily routine.
Follow me for more tips to relieve and prevent stress.
To help you get started…
Check out my Stress Less SOS Action Guide available on Kindle or paperback. It's full of simple and effective tools and techniques to help you relax and feel calmer.
If you know you’ve gone on way too long allowing past or present stressful (painful, traumatic) events and/or people bring you down and/or affect your health and you’re ready to do something about it- grab my Stress Less SOS Action Guide and get started right away with the "how to" on ...
Deep Breathing Exercises
How to Stop Chronic Negative Thinking
and so much more
Here’s to your health!
The Stress-Metabolic Syndrome Connection
It is my goal to teach, encourage, and empower you to make health-promoting decisions so you can reclaim your life and health from stress or emotional pain.
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Missy Rankin, CTNC, CHC
Certified Transformation (Life & Health) Coach
Certified Hormone Coach
Science and/or Fact-Based: I write blogs based on science and/or evidence-based information. I add my experience(s) and education where applicable.
Faith-Based: I may also add scriptures and faith-based information as well.
The information shared here is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as sharing of information only. Legal Policies
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