5 Facts of How Stress Affects Your Health
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
… and what you can do about its damaging effects on your health.
You may already 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 on-going stress to your body?
Things like digestive issues are tied to chronic stress. So are reproductive diseases.
There are reactions that 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 type of pressure (good or bad) put on us.
(Check out this blog for a deeper look at what stress is)
My guess is that 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 real a threat (to our lives) versus a perceived threat to our way of life (money, prestige, 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 to 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.
Most of us have been sheltering at home - and maybe not working. We’re concerned about our finances, 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’s the threat to our health.
Let me explain.
Chronic stress is being in the ‘Fight or Flight” response for a long 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 body.
Inside and out.
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.
Webmd 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.
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 Negativeville. In the Doom and Gloom shopping mall.
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.
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.
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.
Unresolved. Chronic or ongoing stress can lead to health issues.
Practicing simple stress relieving techniques regularly helps to undo the damaging effects of stress on our 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.
Grab my FREE 7 Simple Steps to Stress Less. It’s a great place to start.
If this really resonated with you and you recognize you need some help with this (but aren’t ready for 1:1 coaching) Check out my ebook Stress Less SOS Action Guide. It's chock 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 Actin Guide and get started right away with "how to"s on ...
Deep Breathing Exercises
How to Stop Chronic Negative Thinking
and so much more
PS- Want more info on the negative effects of stress on your health? Check out this webinar, Stress Less SOS: Proven Ways to Stop Stress and Its Damage.
Here’s to your health!
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 the sharing of information only. Legal Policies
Missy Rankin, CTNC, CHS
Certified Transformation Coach,