Stress can take a huge toll on the body in more ways than one. When you feel stressed, your body responds by releasing a stress hormone called cortisol, which forces your body into a “fight or flight” mode. This hormone is meant to protect your body when it senses that you’re in a dangerous situation. But when your stress persists and manifests into chronic stress, it can wreak major havoc on your health.
Here are some significant ways stress can be affecting your body that you may not have realized:
Although cortisol can help you overcome pain in an immediate moment, like relieving pain from a wound, over time it can weaken your overall immune system. If you do feel stressed constantly, you may be more susceptible to catching infections, such as the flu or the common cold, and have a harder time fighting off the illness. Because of this, it’s important to keep your body in check by getting more sleep and taking vitamins and other nutrients that will help strengthen your immune system.
Stress can increase inflammation in the body and as a result, can affect your skin in many ways. If you have skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, the inflammation caused by stress can worsen these conditions. Stress can also cause breakouts, although, this is also attributed to how you act when you’re stressed. For instance, you may not be sleeping enough or taking care of your skin (i.e., washing your face or taking your makeup off). Or perhaps, you’re not eating enough or eating worse foods than usual. It’s imperative to partake in self-care to combat the effects that stress has on your skin.
Aside from poor eating habits, stress can also set off another chain of events that affect our digestive system. When you feel stressed, your breath starts to become more rapid and your heart rate will increase. Because of this, you’re more inclined to have issues such as heartburn or acid reflux, and cause you to have a more sensitive stomach, making you nauseous or even throw up more often.
During periods of severe stress, you may find that you have increased hair shedding when brushing or combing your hair. If you lose clumps of hair or notice your hair thinning, this is a crucial indicator that you may be overstressed. Fortunately, the correlation between stress and hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent. Taking action to reduce your stress levels and using products, such as a hair loss shampoo, can help revert these effects.
During stressful times, you may find yourself getting more headaches or migraines than usual. These pains occur because your muscles tend to tense up for long periods of time, and don’t necessarily get the chance to relax. Subsequently, this can lead to feeling achy and having sore muscles. While exercising may be the last thing you want to do when stressed, it forces your muscles to move and release lactic acid, which is eventually metabolized for energy. Exercise is a great place to start to reduce tiredness from stress and to use as a natural coping mechanism when stress has you feeling overwhelmed.
So what’s next?
If you are feeling persistently overwhelmed with severe stress, consider reflecting on what might be the root cause. Are you over-committing or overworking yourself? Do you feel that the people around you are adding to your stress? Or, maybe you’re going through a stressful time where things are out of your control? Whatever it may be, remind yourself that this feeling doesn’t have to last forever and you don’t have to let it impact your body the way it has been. Once you first address why you’re feeling stressed, you can pinpoint ways to try to reduce what’s causing it. From there, taking care of yourself should be a continuous priority. Remember to exercise, take your vitamins, and nourish your body by eating healthy. Find a routine to help you get the sleep you need and take personal days for yourself to unwind. For even more ways to help reduce your stress go here!