The Effects of Stress on Your Body
When you think about stressful situations, it is common to focus on the mental aspects — how your brain is affected. We know that stress can make your heart race and can cause an upset stomach, but stress can also affect your body in lots of other ways too.
What happens in the body when you are stressed?
The stress response in your body is regulated by the hypothalamus, an important part of the brain that controls hormones in the body. When the brain detects a stressful situation, it triggers the release of the stress response hormones.
This is often referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response. It’s useful in an emergency situation, but it isn’t healthy for your body to be in this state all of the time.
The stress hormones released include cortisol and adrenaline. Your body responds to these hormones by increasing your heart rate and sending blood to the muscles and other key organs.
How Stress Effects Your Body
Today I want to look at some of the things stress does to your body! Some of the symptoms you might experience in response to stress include:
Stress can leave you feeling exhausted
A frantic brain is probably going to keep you awake at night as it constantly turns over the same thoughts. All that overthinking can make it hard to get a restful sleep. That also means you might feel more inclined to skip your workout, especially if you have a lot on. But this is a time when your workouts can be really beneficial! Exercise can help relieve stress and help you to feel more energised.
Stress can lead to weight gain
Binge-eating and comfort eating can be triggered by stress, so if you are an emotional eater, this may be a problem. When you’re tired, you are also likely to make poorer food choices, often relying on a quick pick-me-up because you’re tired and/or want something convenient.
Add into that equation the fact that cortisol (the stress hormone) can lead to a decreased metabolism and you have a recipe for weight gain.
Stress wreaks havoc on your skin and hair
If you’ve ever had a breakout right before a big presentation or event, you probably already know this! Thanks to an increase in androgens (a hormone found in both men and women), you may be more prone to acne and you may shed more hair than usual when you’re feeling stressed.
Stress can also weaken your immune system, causing other skin conditions that you’re prone to (such as rosacea, eczema or psoriasis) to flare up. Unfortunately, a weakened immune system may also mean it takes longer for spots to clear up. I know it can be hard, but try to be mindful of your diet. Add in some immunity-boosting foods to give it a helping hand!
Stress can leave you feeling stiff and sore
You might not have realised that stress can affect your muscles and cause you to feel stiff. This happens because both your blood pressure and heart rate increase, which can make your muscles tighten up. While this is helpful if you need to quickly move out of harm’s way, it can leave you in pain if your body is tense for a long period of time. A massage or a good stretch can help to relieve muscle tension!
Watch out for the effects of stress on your body and mind.
While stress is a common part of our lives, it’s important to know that long-term stress can lead to physical side effects like these. I’m a big believer in the benefits of exercise for reducing stress and practising self-care can help you to stay calm and focus on what your body and mind need. Sometimes you just need a break, sometimes you may need to look at what is causing stress in your life and see what you can do to reduce it.
Take care of yourselves, ladies!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.