Have you ever had that stressful moment where nothing was going right? Maybe it was a long traffic jam despite how late you already was, the bills rising every month, a personal dispute with your annoying neighbor or even seeing Donald Trump on TV. While there are many causes to stress, it can be easily triggered which may lead to detrimental implications on your health and body in the long run. For this simple reason, many people live stressful lives without even knowing they’re stressed. Biologically the stress response or ‘fight or flight response’ has been hardwired into us all since the evolution of man to protect us from danger likewise assist in taking down a prey or meal.
(That is hunting for food and killing the creature to be prepared for a meal, not ordering a pizza and having it delivered to your front door)
This survival mechanism has proven effective 10,000 years ago when we had to hunt for food likewise avoid being eaten from other predators like dinosaurs and dragons. However, now in 2017 many of us seem to exploit the stress response even though it’s not needed at the moment. Majority of the times it’s because most people are unaware. While some of us do allow ourselves to become stressed over uncontrolled situations, many of us are unconscious to the whole situation.
Have you ever heard the phrases?
If you’ve never heard of this phrase before, then after reading this article you’ll realize how closely stress is linked to death and other health complications and diseases. In this article I will discuss the effects stress has on your body and why you shouldn’t allow yourself to become overly stressed so often.
- Increased risks of heart disease: Since the heart is one of the main organ in the body responsible for circulating blood throughout, the effects of stress can have severe impacts on your heart health. Stress causes your heart to beat faster while contracting smaller which results in limited oxygen intake.
- Increased blood sugar: Consistently being stressed increases your chances of getting type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This occurs because the body increases the level of glucose in the blood to supply your muscles with sufficient energy to fight or flight. This typically contributes to insulin resistance and may lead to fatigue in the muscle as a result of the increased blood sugar levels.
- Weight gain: Avoid being overly stressed all the time because this may lead to you gaining weight faster than you’re capable of losing at the gym. The stress hormone cortisol is known to boost appetite and increase cravings for junk foods such as fatty foods or sugar foods like cookies. This is how the body biologically responses to being stressed; the brain is deceived into thinking calories burnt by being stressed should be replaced. Therefore many people seek after comfort foods either high in sugars or fats.
- Blood clotting: Whenever your body is under stress, your blood begins to clot to prevent you from bleeding to death biologically. Since the stress response is to help keep you alive; in the event you were to get cut or attacked by a prey, your blood clotting would help slow down the bleeding process. However, if you are already suffering from high blood pressure or mild blood clots, having your blood clot while under stress could worsen your condition.
- Stroke or heart attack being stressed consistently increases your risks of a heart attack or stroke due to the increased blot clotting and elevated heart rates. This may damage the heart’s muscle due to work overload.
- Cancer and other serious diseases: Being stressed causes your immune system to weaken significantly. This causes your body to be more vulnerable to being infected by harmful viruses and diseases such as cancer.
- Decrease in anti-aging growth hormones: This is the most visible signs of being stressed. When you’re consistently stressed, you begin to look older than your age. This is because your anti-growth hormones are decreased inside of the body which allows for wrinkles to show. An example of this is a young female at the age of 21 but her appearance looks as though she is 54.
- Depression: Stress may trigger depression in some individuals due to the decrease in hormones which regulate mood. This increases cravings of comfort foods likewise neglecting healthy lifestyle practices. Prolonged stress or chronic stress has been closely linked to depression which may have negative impacts on the body. It is best to avoid being stressed consistently to avoid the risk of depression and other harmful condition or diseases.
- Suppress digestion: When you’re stressed, your digestive system automatically slows down or shuts off completely because of the triggered flight or fight response. This results in a depletion of the enzymes necessary for digesting foods in the stomach. Your body does this naturally to divert its energy sources towards facing the perceived threat (Whether real or imagined). This may lead to abdominal pain or gastrointestinal disorders likewise acid reflux and heart burn.
- Acid reflux and indigestion Stress forces many people to crave high fat or sugary comfort foods. This may also cause you to over eat. Naturally the body thinks that it should replace the calories that was burnt during stress (realistically you never burnt any calories being stressed). Additionally fatty foods and sugary foods have a high tendency to increase acid reflux and heart burn. Stress has been connected with the depletion of prostaglandins known to protect the stomach from acid effects. Therefore it is best to reduce your stress levels to avoid acid reflux and heart burn.
- Reduced immune support consistently being stressed reduces your ability to fight off other harmful diseases and infections. This makes your body vulnerable to diseases like cancers and other harmful viruses. Since your body is mainly focused on avoiding being eaten or damaged, fighting off diseases or viruses isn’t a priority while being stressed. Therefore if you want to boost your immune system, avoid stressing out yourself consistently.
- Fight or flight: 10,000 years ago when dinosaurs and dragons were around; if you were fishing by the river and you saw a T-Rex coming towards you to eat you, the fight or flight response would be very efficient. You would simply “flight” or run away and hide. Biologically, a lot of processes have to occur to help you in the process. These include; increased heart rate and blood pressure, stress hormones like, adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are released, increased blood glucose for energy and much more. In a simple situation such as getting a ticket for packing, being stressed automatically gets you into fight or flight mode which your body isn’t prepared for.
- Insomnia: Being stressed may cause you to experience insomnia and reduce the amount of sleep you get at night. Since sleep is very effective for the body to recover and grow, losing too much sleep may have significant impacts on your health and body. Whenever you’re stressed, your body naturally boosts your energy to fight or flight so sleeping is your last option at the moment.
There you have the top 13 effects of stress on the body. Now there are a lot more harmful effects stress may have on the body but here I have only listed the top 13. If there are other effects that I did not mention or overlooked, feel free to list it in the comments below. After reading this article, I hope you avoid stressing yourself over the simple stuff because it’s not worth it. Consider adding yoga or frequent meditation to your daily activities to help reduce your stress levels. Stress has been closely linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers, heart diseases and even death. Therefore I recommend that you avoid stressing out yourself over the simple stuff unless you have to.