5 Facts of How Stress Affects Your Health

Updated: May 28, 2021

… 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.


-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.

  1. Take 3 deep breaths and exhale slowly.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  • Set boundaries

  • Eat healthy foods

  • Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and my blog (Pinterest) for more natural ways to reduce stress.

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.

Let’s Review

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.

  1. Grab my Stress Less SOS Action Guide. It’s a great place to start. More about it below.

  2. Schedule in stress relieving activities to your daily routine.

  3. 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.

Stress Less SOS Action Guide: Quick & Easy Tools for Relieving and Preventing Stress

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 ...

  • Setting Boundaries,

  • Time Management

  • Healthy Eating

  • Restorative Sleep

  • Deep Breathing Exercises

  • How to Stop Chronic Negative Thinking

  • and so much more

Here’s to your health!

🦋 Missy

Related Posts

5 Facts of How Stress Affects Your Health

What I Wish Everyone Knew About Stress Eating

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.

Would guidance and support make your healing journey easier? Let's have a short chat and see how I can help you. Book a complimentary 30-minute call with me here.

For information on my products and services click here > Work with Me to start or continue your healing journey.

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

This post includes affiliate links to products I have personally used and/or recommend. At no extra cost to you, I may earn a small percentage so that I can keep my digital products and coaching services affordable. You can read the full disclosure here.

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