I think we’re all pretty familiar with that feeling. Hearing the constant stream of friends and family telling you to “stop stressing so much” because it’s “bad for your health” may sound like a couple of broken records to most of us, but it’s actually rooted in quite a bit of truth. Though we want think that we’re invincible, our bodies aren’t. When overrun with stress that lasts for weeks, or even years, our bodies begin to fail us in a number of ways. Whether it be stress from relationships, stress from work, stress from finances, or the thousands of other things we as humans stress over every day, stress can have us feeling as if we will never have time to take care of what really needs taking care of: ourselves.
Multiple studies have shown that chronic stress, or even short bursts of stress, can lead to high blood pressure, stomach problems, breakouts, exhaustion, immune deficiencies, and weight gain.
Stress may cause high blood pressure. According to staff members at the Mayo Clinic, temporary but frequent spikes in blood pressure (caused by, say, an impending deadline you forgot about) can damage blood vessels, your heart, and kidneys in ways just like it does to people with long-term high blood pressure, putting you at greater risk for heart attack or stroke.
may cause stomach pain. According to a Harvard Mental Health Letter, when faced with a stressful situation, digestive processes may slow down, or even stop, causing stomach pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as an upset stomach, irritable bowels, cramps, and other gut-related symptoms.
Stress may cause breakouts. When stressed, our body turns our adrenal glands into overdrive, causing our sebaceous glands to release higher amounts of sebum, or oil. In turn, that oil can mix with bacteria and cause a breakout – or five. Skin also appears more red and inflamed due to the expansion of capillaries and increased blood flow that follows a stressful situation occurring..
Stress may cause exhaustion. This can manifest itself in a couple different ways. Either you are unable to sleep at night due to thinking about all of the things you need to or you’re up all night doing things that need to get done, because, let’s face it, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. It may be a combination of the two, or it may be the simple fact that stress just wears your body out.
y cause immune deficiencies. When the body is enduring a stressful situation, stress hormones are pumped throughout the body. Though these guys are useful, they can do damage when hanging around for too long and for too often. They are able to interfere with our immune system, resulting in inflammation, reduced white blood cells, and a higher vulnerability to infection.
Stress may cause weight gain. We’ve all been there: stress-eating our problems away with sugary, fatty foods. But what many people don’t know is that this overeating can become a habit. When stressed, our levels of the stress hormone cortisol rises, which in the end, causes your blood sugar to drop and the craving for those sugary, fatty foods to kick in.
Stress wreaks havoc in all of our lives. It can cause a lack of motivation or focus, feelings of irritability, changes in sex drive, and social withdrawal. It can even lead to depression. I think it’s high time we start listening to those broken records telling us to “just relax” and begin putting our mental health first. To successfully manage stress, try exercising regularly, conducting relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, and making time for friends, family, and hobbies that you enjoy.