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What Feeling Stressed Every Day Does To Your Body

It's not just in your mind.
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You probably think you already know what feeling stressed every day does to your body. Who isn't stressed these days? The feeling can lead to "brain fog, digestion issues, emotional issues, increased disease rates, and many other things," according to Dr. Colin Bartoe. "Everybody is stressed out, life is changing, but this will pass at some point in the future, and life will get back to normal," says Steven Rosenberg, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and behavioral specialist in Philadelphia. Until then, read on to find out more about how stress can wreak havoc on your body and why it's so important to keep the nerves at bay. 

1

Stress Can Cause Sleep Problems

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"Stress can have profound effects on sleep. Notably, stress can exacerbate insomnia symptoms and disrupt an individual's ability to fall asleep or maintain sleep throughout the night," Kimberly Fenn from Michigan State University told MSUToday. "There is also evidence that stress impacts the quality of sleep, making it more likely to spend time in lighter stages of sleep. Sleep deprivation can directly impair health and immune function," Fenn says.

2

Stress Can Cause Muscle Tension

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"When we stay in a stressed state, we can experience muscle tightness and soreness," says Dr. Bartoe. Since stress causes your muscles to tighten, it can strain these muscles, leading to chronic aches and pains.

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3

Stress Can Cause Headaches

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Tightened muscles from stress may also cause headaches. "It's not just tragic events that can cause headaches. Most of the time, it's the every day, low-grade stress that triggers pain," according to experts at Northview Medical. These experts say that stress headaches may be caused by "demanding work environment, relationship issues, unemployment and financial problems, childhood trauma and abuse, anxiety disorders, lack of sleep, or travel and new routines."

4

Stress Can Cause Stomach Issues

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"When you are anxious, some of the hormones and chemicals released by your body enter your digestive tract, where they interfere with digestion," Ken Goodman, LCSW told the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Stress-related gut issues may include "indigestion, stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, unnatural hunger, nausea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and peptic ulcers," according to Goodman.

5

Stress Can Cause High Blood Pressure

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"Constant stress creates a neurological shift into what we call a Fight or Flight response when our Sympathetic Nervous System ramps up," according to Dr. Bartoe, "In this stress response, we will have higher blood pressure, higher heart rate, decreased blood flow to our intestines and can even have problems with blood flow to the brain."

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6

Stress Can Cause Unhealthy Eating Habits

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"Our response to short-term stress is a surge of epinephrine to trigger the fight-or-flight response. If stress persists, then the body releases cortisol," says Michelle Zive, RD, Ph.D., and co-author of the NASM-CNC. "This hormone increases appetite and motivation, including the motivation to eat. During these times we are drawn to foods high in fat, sugar, or both, which can lead to weight gain."

7

Stress Can Cause An Elevated Heart Rate

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"Stress has a severe impact on cardiovascular function both during waking and sleep," says Kimberly Fenn. "Individuals who are experiencing high levels of stress tend to have a higher heart rate during waking and sleep and a lower heart rate variability during sleep."And an elevated heart rate is something to watch out for. "Changes in the rate and regularity of your pulse can change and may signify a heart condition or other condition that needs to be addressed," according to the American Heart Association.

8

Relieve Your Stress Instantly

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"At times, tough days can blast your mind to the past or catapult you into the future—pick your poison," says Jacob Kountz, a marriage and family therapist in Bakersfield, California. "Mindfulness is a technique that attempts to put the brakes on that process to slow things down. This can be achieved by taking a few minutes of your day to notice what's going on in the present so you don't have to time travel anymore." So try it, and relieve your stress instantly with any of these 25 Proven Ways to Make Today a Better Day.

Kelly Hernandez
Kelly Hernandez is a health and wellness writer and certified personal trainer. Read more
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