What Are the Effects of Stress on the Body?

If your favorite meal looks less appetizing and your daily commute is causing an unusual rise in blood pressure, there may be more going on.

Woman feeling stressed, what are the effects of stress on your body

In our modern world there are countless sources of stress. Anything from your daily commute to consistent lack of sleep can increase your stress levels. In fact, some of the most common sources of stress are ongoing frustration, traffic, relationship challenges, financial concerns, occupational deadlines, and trauma.

How can I know if I’m stressed?

Pay attention to the signs and symptoms. If your heart is pounding, your breathing is quicker than normal, your muscles always feel tight, or your doctor is telling you that your blood pressure is higher than normal, these could all be symptoms that you’re stressed.

Short bouts of stress are normal and not generally harmful. They can even yield positive results at times, like when you run a race or catch your stumbling child. These reactions are normal and shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, but if you’re often feeling stressed, then it could be affecting your physical and mental health.

Related: Things You Can Do Right Now to Practice Self-Care

What are the effects of chronic stress?

Over time, excessive stress may lead to:

• Low energy
• Headaches
• Upset stomach
• Aches and pains
• Muscle tension
• Chest pain
• Frequent illness
• Anxiety
• Shaking
• Cold sweats
• Dry mouth
• Insomnia

Beyond that, chronic stress can leave you feeling overwhelmed, making it difficult to relax, and may even contribute to lower self-esteem. It can also cause racing thoughts, forgetfulness, disorganization, poor judgement, and pessimistic or overly negative outlooks.

What can I do?

If any of the effects of chronic stress listed above are negatively impacting your daily life and keeping you from your normal activities, talk to your doctor. Create a plan for how to deal with sources of stress when they occur. Whether it’s taking a few deep breaths, going on a walk, creating a to-do list, or all of the above, taking control of how you handle stress is an important part of reducing its impact.

Get some type of exercise every day. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sweat it out at the gym. If you like that method of exercise, go for it, but if you prefer yoga, hiking, or even a simple walk around the block, daily movement has been proven to reduce stress.

The best method for dealing with stress is the one that puts you in control of it. Be aware of how your day-to-day activities are impacting you and respond accordingly.

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