HOW STRESS EFFECTS YOUR BODY
The Effects of Stress on the Body:
While our bodies are built to handle short-term stress—both positive and negative—problems ramp up when we’re exposed to long-term stress. Even the healthiest and fittest of us aren’t built to combat stress for extended periods.
If you spend any time on social media, you’ve likely seen demonstrations of the abundance of stress most of us are constantly exposed to and how we react. In addition to causing many of us to reach for a glass or two of wine, or another cocktail, the effects of stress can also lead to over- or under-eating, anger, social withdrawal, and a desire to skip your workouts, even when you really love exercise and the benefits from it.
Stress also activates the release of hormones to produce white blood cells to fight infection and other diseases. This is a good thing when we’re looking at short-term stress. Chronic stress, however, causes suppression of the immune system, so we’re no longer able to fight the cold and flu germs that seem so prevalent on shopping cart handles.
The digestive system is also affected. Remember that the first phase of stress initiates the body’s “fight or flight” reaction, which works in direct opposition of the body’s “rest and digest” processes. Along those lines, stress can cause gas bloating, excessive blenching and farting, and inflammation of the digestive track.
Stress also affects appetite, eating behaviors, and diet quality, which can lead to weight gain or weight loss, depending on the person. People experience stress differently, with many resorting to emotional eating while others experience a loss in appetite. By raising cortisol levels, stress can also lead to storing excess belly fat, which is linked to a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, as well as dementia later in life.
Because stress causes a chemical cascade that increases heart rate, blood pressure, and blood fat levels, it can also have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system.