Stress impacts the body primarily through its effects on neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that act on cells and relay messages between neurons. Stress acts directly on these neurotransmitters, altering their activity and regulation. Stress has been linked with a number of health problems such as depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer, memory loss, tendonitis, insomnia, obesity, gastrointestinal problems, and inflammatory diseases. In fact, the effects of stress on the body may be so powerful that it can literally alter your very existence.1
Any extrinsic or internal stimulus that elicits a physiological response is called stress. The stress response in the brain is initiated by neuroendocrine stress signals sent from the adrenal gland, which are released in response to either physical stimuli or a mental challenge, and are intended to strengthen and adapt the organism to the threat. Depending on the nature of the stress, the effects of stress on the body may vary from the release of hormones to the regulation of brain chemical activity to the modification of immune system function.
When the body is under stress, the fight or flight response in the brain is triggered, which triggers several physical responses in the body including the accelerated growth of muscles and organs, increased heart rate, blood flow to the muscles, and the accelerated burning of carbohydrates (energy) in the liver and muscles. This means that stress can cause serious damage to the brain, contributing to the symptoms and behaviors often associated with stress such as depression, anxiety, and anger.
What Is Stress?
Stress can come from any source and can be either good or bad. Good stress motivates us to achieve our goals; bad stress tends to be a stress reaction that gets in the way of what we want to achieve. Regardless of how it causes us stress there are two things that we can do. One is to deal with stress as best we can and the other is to avoid the situations that cause us stress. It is important that we learn to control the stress in our lives and find ways to eliminate or at least limit stress.2
When someone is stressed they will experience a wide variety of symptoms. Some of these symptoms include high blood pressure, headache, muscle tension, digestive problems, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and irritability. Stress can even become chronic stress if the person has to use drugs to alleviate the symptoms. Chronic stress can also turn into bad stress, which in turn can be damaging.3
If someone has to take certain medications to alleviate their symptoms then they may become overwhelmed and unable to cope with the constant feeling of anxiety, fatigue, and heartburn. This can lead to worse health, such as cancer, ulcers, stroke, and diabetes.4 Unfortunately, what is sometimes referred to as “good stress” is often misunderstood as “bad stress,” which only adds to the problem and makes it much more difficult to rid oneself of the feeling of overwhelm.
Effects of Stress on the Body
Stress can cause a multitude of physiological effects on your body, including high blood pressure, increased heartbeat, elevated blood sugar levels, reduced lymph flow, decreased digestive enzymes, weight gain or loss, immune suppression, decreased endorphins, and much more.5 As you can imagine, these physiological effects of stress can have serious health consequences. In recent years, researchers have been focusing on the effects of stress on the body’s cardiovascular system.6
In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reviewed the effects of stress on the cardiovascular systems of people. The review found that people who are frequently stressed have a lower resistance to chronic stress and are at increased risk for coronary artery disease. The scientists explain that the effects of stress on the body may stem from the interaction of stress hormones with inflammatory mediators in the body. People may also be prone to stress if they are overweight or experience chronic illness. Stress may affect the heart in ways people may not be aware of.
When combined with unhealthy eating habits, stress symptoms can lead to many unhealthy consequences for the body. The above-mentioned are only a few of the effects of stress on the body. In order to alleviate stress symptoms, you should incorporate healthy lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep, exercise, reducing environmental toxins, eliminating stimulants such as caffeine, and eating a balanced diet.7 You should also visit your doctor regularly to address any health issues that stress may be exacerbating.
Effects of Stress on the Mind
The effects of stress on the mind are very real. It is important to know what they are and how to cope with them. The stress response in the body can lead to many health problems.
Being overloaded, overworked, anxious, depressed, fatigued, tense, overwhelmed, rushed, frustrated, stressed, sleepless, irritable, distracted are all signs of stress. On the other hand, one of the best stress response skills is to relax and de-stress. A few minutes of meditation or relaxation each day can go a long way towards reducing stress symptoms.
For many people, stress is a daily reality that they have little control over. Stress symptoms can interfere with their lives and their health. If stress is managing your life as you want it to, then learn to let it control you. Learn coping skills for stress so that you have some little control over the stress in your life.
The effects of stress on the mind are really just an exaggeration of the physical symptoms caused by stress. There are other psychological symptoms such as digestive issues, headaches, irritability, memory problems, and depression that can occur along with the physical symptoms. These signs and symptoms should never be ignored, especially if you have never experienced them before. Take note of them and contact your doctor immediately.
What Are the Signs of Stress? Know This Before it Becomes a Problem
Different people experience different kinds of stress at different times in their lives. Some individuals experience intense fear, while other individuals experience feelings of frustration or anger. Everyone experiences stress at various times in life. Stress is not necessarily bad. In fact, it keeps humans motivated and active. However, prolonged stress can be unhealthy and lead to negative health effects. When an individual experiences too much stress, he or she may exhibit signs of stress.
What are the symptoms of stress? Sometimes, stress-related symptoms go unnoticed, until it is too late to reverse the situation. A few signs of stress that might be confused with everyday stress include headaches, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, muscle tension, and digestive disorders. At other times, no symptoms may be apparent until it is too late to reverse the situation.
There are different situations that trigger stress. Work, family responsibilities, and finances are some of the most common. In order to prevent stress, individuals should establish clear goals and expectations, set realistic deadlines, and prepare for inevitable interruptions. A successful work schedule enables an individual to cope with stress and enjoy a stress-free life.
Stress can negatively affect the health of a person. It can increase tension and anxiety, which in turn can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Stress can also negatively affect the immune system and cause gastrointestinal problems. It can also cause depression, high blood pressure, and ulcers. If these symptoms are ignored and left untreated, it can result in heart disease, hypertension, mental illness, and mental retardation.
These are just a few of the signs of stress. Others include feelings of guilt, unrealistic expectations, changes in eating habits, and difficulty functioning. Everyone goes through periods of stress throughout their lives. It is important to be able to recognize the signs and understand how to handle them. Recognizing stress as it occurs, will enable you to identify the appropriate action to take.
The good news is that stress doesn’t have to control your life. If you identify the signs of stress and find yourself experiencing them, there are many effective ways in which you can manage them and improve your overall health. Some common ways of managing stress include yoga, meditation, exercise, and learning relaxation techniques such as yoga and Tai Chi.
Being able to read the signs of stress in your body can be huge to your mental and physical health. If you are aware of what these signs are, then you can treat them quickly to improve your health and well-being. By identifying the signs of stress, you can reduce or eliminate them altogether. The important thing is that you recognize the signs of stress so that you can take steps towards managing them properly. Once you know what the signs of stress are, you can take action and eliminate stress from your life for good.
Dealing With Stress In Your Daily Routine
Teens and children often struggle with how to cope with stress successfully. They respond, at least in part, to what they view in the adults around them. If parents and caregivers respond with calm and assertively, they are providing the very best support possible for their teens and children.8
Unfortunately, that’s not always how to cope with stress and be resilient. If you don’t take a moment to consider how to deal with life’s little unexpected problems, you could miss out on a lot of enjoyment. It’s a good idea to plan ahead for stress, even when life seems like it’s all kicking your way. In fact, one of the most powerful stressors is knowing how to handle life’s little unexpected obstacles, and not letting them distract you from your goals. It can be a challenge, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that life is much more enjoyable.9
If your teen or child is dealing with stress by worrying constantly about school, friends, or grades, talk to them about finding a way to manage their daily routine without stressing over the small things. There are many ways to help. Some include setting up a daily routine for them that doesn’t demand so much time from them.10 Others, such as getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet, will also go a long way in helping them reduce their stress levels. In the end, the mental health of teens and children depends on how well parents and teachers, and schools handle stress.
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1 “What are neurotransmitters? – Queensland Brain Institute – University.” 9 Nov. 2017, https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-physiology/what-are-neurotransmitters Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
2 “Stress and your health – Medical Encyclopedia – MedlinePlus.” 10 May. 2020, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003211.htm Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
3 “Stress won’t go away? Maybe you are suffering from chronic stress.” 25 Oct. 2019, https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/chronic Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
4 “Chronic stress puts your health at risk – Mayo Clinic.” 8 Jul. 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037 Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
5 “The Effects of Stress on Your Body – Healthline.” https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
6 “Stress effects on the body – American Psychological Association.” 1 Nov. 2018, https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
7 “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior – Mayo Clinic.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987 Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
8 “10 Ways to Ease Stress – Cleveland Clinic.” 12 Oct. 2020, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/8133-stress-10-ways-to-ease-stress Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
9 “Effective Stress Relievers for Your Life – Verywell Mind.” 26 Jul. 2021, https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-to-reduce-stress-3145195 Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.
10 “Relaxation Techniques: Learn How to Manage Stress – WebMD.” 9 Apr. 2021, https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot Accessed 25 Aug. 2021.