Monday, 10 October 2016

Guest blog - the harmful side effects of stress

When it comes to stress, there are not a lot of positives things associated with it. Although when a person is put under a sustainable stress level, it can help that person to perform better and even get them out of dangerous situations. Therefore, it can be concluded that you are not damaged by stress in its own right, but rather by chronic stress which can affect your physical health, your mental well-being, your relationships with others and even your sense of peace within the world.

When constant worrying starts to intrude into your life, you will notice a change in your sleep patterns, see a weight loss or weight gain, and you may find it difficult to concentrate at work. Once anxiety starts to take hold, you can even find yourself in an ugly pattern that includes too much food, alcohol, cigarettes or even illegal substances as you try to push the anxiety away.

When you become scared, your fight or flight response kicks in. Your body is releasing chemicals such as adrenaline to help you cope with the current situation. You will begin breathing faster causing excess amounts of oxygen to be delivered to your brain. The change in your body should only be short-term and when the danger passes, it will revert to its natural resting state.  

When your body goes through this phase, it is not an issue in the short term. However, if the body has to respond to stress far too often, your body's immune system weakens, leaving you prone to infections and other illnesses.

A Heightened Chance Of Heart Problems

If you have previously dealt with heart issues in the past, you may already be aware of the link between heart issues and excess stress. Studies show that people who previously were not a candidate for heart disease may be in danger if exposed to large amounts of stress.

Always Feeling Tired

When worry keeps you up at night, the lack of sleep is not the only reason why you feel so exhausted each morning. A side effect of stress causes excess cortisol to be released into the blood supply. During a stressful situation, this hormone is released, causing your heart to beat faster, which will provide your body with an energy boost and allows the brain to get more oxygen. The problem occurs when your brain tries to hold back on the amount of cortisol that it  releases causing that exhausted feeling you are experiencing.

Your Digestive System Can Sustain Damage

You may not be aware of why you have that feeling like your stomach is tied up in knots all of the time. Your thyroid glands release hormones that assist your body's digestion system, and these hormones also impact on your metabolism. The constant barrage of stress causes these hormones to wreak havoc with your digestive system and you may find constipation to be a by-product of this.

Bad Memory

The hippocampus is the memory storing part of your brain. Extreme stress can make a difference to how your hippocampus operates. It can actually cause your hippocampus to get smaller, which will impact your memory. Often, when you experience traumatic stress, your hippocampus has difficulty storing and creating new memories.

Bruxism And TMJ Dental Issues

Many people under stress either consciously or unconsciously grind or clench their teeth. This is known as bruxism and can cause temporomandibular joint problems, otherwise known as TMJ, resulting in extreme pain in the jaw and neck area.

Hair Loss And Acne

When you are stressed and your androgen levels increase, you may notice that your skin frequently experiences acne issues. However, you will also find that you could experience an increased amount of hair loss up to six months after you were put under intense stress.

Muscles Aches And Pains

As already discussed, your body will experience more hormones being released, higher blood pressure and a higher heart rate when stressed. These things combined can then lead to a constriction of your muscles. The result of this constriction is muscle aches and pains which cannot be attributed to physical exertion.

Weakened Immune System

When your body is exposed to constant stress, your immune system becomes compromised and that can cause you to become sick more often. Stress means higher levels of cortisol, which in turn weakens your immune system leaving you exposed to all sorts of health nasties.


There is hope!

Stress does not have to take control of your life. There are plenty of ways that you can fight back against the stress you are experiencing. There are relaxation techniques that you can perform, such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to take back your life. Your doctor is your first port of call when you want to make lifestyle changes that include exercise or diet.
Don't delay any longer the chance to fight back against what stress is doing to you.


Waverly J. Hanson is a licensed professional counsellor, licensed marriage coach, military and family life consultant, professional trainer and author of How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage. She has more than 25 years of experience helping individuals and couples improve their lives. To learn more about her effective methods, visit

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