14 Effects of Stress on the Body from 14 Effects of Stress on the Body

14 Effects of Stress on the Body

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14 Effects of Stress on the Body

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More than half of the population – 77 percent – experience regular physical symptoms caused by stress, statistics show. 33 percent feel like they are living with extreme stress and 48 percent feel their stress has increased over the past five years.

The most common causes of stress include relationships, money, job pressure, sleep deprivation, and poor nutrition. If you are experiencing one or more of these causes, it may be time to reevaluate your physical health.

Leads to shortness of breath

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“The Stress Response Mechanism sets off a waterfall of stress hormones on the body during a stressful event and this leads to a person gasping for breath,” says Stress Resolution Specialist Celine Healy. “The other reason is because the lungs are like a set of bellows, and the build-up of stress in the body leads to the psoas muscle pulling down on the diaphragm leaving the bellows open, and this means that the full use of the lungs is not available, and so the person then is only able to gasp for air in the top part of the lungs.”

Leads to loss of memory and brain fog

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“During a stress event the blood rushes from the brain area to the major muscle groups – the arms and the legs so that the person can flee the impending threat,” Healy says. “This means that the decision-making ability is reduced and that the person acts on auto pilot.” If he or she continues to operate from a stressed position, eventually permanent brain fog and loss of memory may occur, she adds.

Increased cortisol affects blood sugar levels and insulin levels

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“During a stress event, up to 1,400 chemical and electrical events occur at once. It is like having an acid bath. This acid bath spikes blood sugar giving the person the false ‘hit’ or high,” Healy says. “This then affects the insulin levels and the body has to fight harder to reduce these spikes and bring itself back into balance.”

Depletes energy and increases exhaustion

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“Physically, mentally and emotionally how we respond to a stressful event is that we place the body/mind under enormous pressure to react quickly to a perceived threat,” Healy says. Getting the body and mind back in balance takes up an enormous amount of effort; this then depletes our energy, she adds.

Doing tasks takes more and more time

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“Due to the effects of the stress, hormones being released during an actual or a perceived threat weaken the brain/body connection and our body/mind becomes foggy,” Healy says. “This then leads to creating extra synapses in order to get back on track.” This is ultimately resulting in taking more and more time to complete tasks and feeling like we don’t have enough time to complete tasks, she adds.

Loss of control of our body/mind

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“Repeated stress events cause us to constantly be in a reactive state because our stress response mechanism is locked on open,” Healy says. “This means that when someone triggers a memory within us that reminds us of a prior stressful event, or triggers a negative belief, we are quicker to react because our defences are just below the surface. When this happens, we feel that we are out of control.”

Weight gain

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Stress causes the release of two particular hormones called cortisol and epinephrine. When these adrenal hormones are put out, it can cause insulin to take glucose into our cells and turn it to fat, causing weight gain.

Difficulty sleeping

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Tossing and turning a lot? Half of adults who took part in a stress survey said they felt sluggish in the morning and 43 percent said they couldn’t fall asleep because of stress. Stress can also lead to insomnia – you don’t sleep at all, not just a few hours a night. Stress increases the chance for that by 19 percent, according to a study published in the journal SLEEP. When you’re worried, your nervous system doesn't shut down, you can’t sleep, and your brain stays hyperactive with no chance or resting.

Sore jaw

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Everything is fine during the day but at night, while you’re sleeping, you don’t realize that you’re grinding your teeth. You don’t know it’s happening until you wake up and your jaw is sore. If that’s the case, try to notice if your “grinding the stress out” during the day as well. It can lead to, other than pain, tooth damage and cracked teeth. Make a dentist appointment to see if there is anything you don’t know about.

Blood pressure rises

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Your blood pressure rises to prepare you for a fight,” Dr. Jason Gould, Doctor of Chiropractic, says. “If your blood pressure remains or is frequently high this can lead to many health problems including the risk of cardiovascular disease or heart attack.”

Plays havoc with immune system

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“Ever come down with a cold the moment you stop or take a holiday? That’s because your immune system is suppressed while in ‘fight or flight’ mode and, once you calm down, you become susceptible to colds and flu,” Dr. Gould says. “With prolonged stress, your immune system is weakened, making you likely to get ill more often.”

Your muscles tense

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Your muscles tense so you are primed for fighting, Dr. Gould says. “When you don’t actually need to fight in today’s worlds, this leads to neck, back or other muscular problems and strains.”

Shrinks brain size

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“Stress can shrink brain size,” Connie Rogers, Certified Integrative Nutritional Holistic Health Coach, says. “This means stress hormones can alter brain function, and creativity, including the ability to learn and cope.”

Hair loss

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"Hair loss may be one of many symptoms that occur when the body is stressed,” Rogers says. “This can be linked to a high sugar diet leading to low vitamin B12 levels creating a stressed response in the hair follicles.”