10 Troubling Ways That Stress Affects the Body
Not to stress you out, but studies continue to uncover more and more ways in which the burden of modern life is manifesting itself in detrimental ways in the body. It makes sense too; when your brain thinks it’s under threat, it responds by releasing chemicals into your body’s circulation system and triggering inflammation. Over a prolonged amount of time, this would obviously provoke a degree of alteration. Here are 10 common examples to be wary of:
1. Your Sleep Routine
Everyone has experienced the vicious cycle of lying in bed, listening to an anxious mind while it worries about the day ahead. What’s worse, is that this lack of sleep comes with its own set of adverse effects, including heart disease and diabetes. Thankfully, routine exercise and nightly mediation sessions have been shown to promote more regular, quality sleep.
2. Your Skin
One of the most obvious physical signs of someone currently suffering through a particularly tense period would be the state of their skin. As you may recall from high school, all it took was one exam on the horizon to multiply your acne troubles, and these hormonal issues extend to various other disorders including psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and pruritus. Speak to your doctor about the best solution.
3. Your Heart
If you’ve ever had a panic attack, then you will know how fast your heart beats when a bucket full of adrenaline has been dumped into your veins, at times feeling like a heart attack. Unfortunately, the extent of this health concern is yet to be fully established, but as the pressures of modern life encourage bad habits (such as junk food, unhealthy sleep routines, and smoking), the worry is still wholly justified.
4. Your Digestive System
With so many stress hormones flooding through your body, it’s no surprise that both your stomach and intestines can fall victim to some undesirable effects. Psychological disturbances have been directly linked to irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, while a nervous mind may struggle to keep any food down. Your best chance is to consume as much water as possible and increase the fiber in your diet.
5. Your Weight
The stress hormone known as cortisol can increase the craving for fatty foods covered in loads of sugar, calling you towards a snacking session that just adds number to the scale. Fight these urges by filling your cupboards with healthy snacks, and force yourself to take daily outdoor walks. This type of exercise will not only help you manage a healthy weight, but fresh oxygen will also help clear out your busy brain.
6. Your Spine
Stress is an important part of our survival mechanisms, as it tenses the muscles and prepares the body for a fight or flight reaction. However, if you’re experiencing this type of high energy while sitting at your work desk, these tensions achieve nothing except for an unnecessary strain on your spine, perhaps even causing some damage. Practice proper posture, stretch more regularly, and prevent further injury from neck strain or a pinched nerve by wearing a cervical neck brace.
7. Your Memory
The hippocampus is an organ living within the brain which takes your life experiences and saves them in your memory bank. Cortisol specifically attacks the hippocampus, binding to it which interrupts these neurotransmitters, and hinders our ability to remember information. What’s worse, is that prolonged stress has been shown to cause permanent memory damage.
8. Hair Loss
A cartoon representation of stress may feature a comedic character tearing their hair out, but the reality is not that far off. Studies have proven that continuous tension and worry within a person drastically stunts their hair growth, and can result in shedding from an otherwise completely healthy human. Fortunately, this outcome is reported to be temporary and can be somewhat controlled with better dietary decisions.
9. Your Reproductive System
The list of hormones which come out to play during a stressful time is exhausting, some of which can disrupt the regularity of your menstrual cycle or lower your sperm count. Both of these outcomes are actually very clever defense mechanisms, as the body’s way of saying “this is not the ideal time to have a baby right now”. On that note, if you are already pregnant, a stressful atmosphere can negatively harm your child, and this is worth speaking to a doctor about.
10. Your Libido
After a long day of your distracted mind weighing you down, it’s obvious why you may return home exhausted and lacking any sex drive. This decreased desire has been further linked to noticeable changes in your estrogen and testosterone levels, while erectile dysfunction is also a common indication of a struggling man. As always, speak to a professional.