We all know that stress is not healthy and that it can have a negative impact on your overall health and well-being. Stress is a normal part of life and we can experience it in different ways – physically when suffering from pain or a disease, emotionally when experience feelings of grief or psychologically when being afraid or suffering from anxiety. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family life to serious events like war, a death in the family or a medical diagnosis can trigger stress. How you handle stressful situations is established as early on as before birth, it can even be affected by your genes! Other lifestyle factors also affect how we handle stress and how often stress presents itself in our lives. Bad habits like overeating, smoking, drinking and not being active are common reactions to being stressed, but they add to the negative health effects of stress, which can make it even more difficult to deal with.
One interesting fact to point out is that stress hormones are the exact same ones that trigger your body’s fight or flight response. The symptoms include a racing heart, your breath becoming quicker and your muscles tightening up ready for action. This response was specifically designed to protect your body in an emergency so that you could react quickly, but if your stress response is initiated on a regular basis, day after day, then it could put your health at serious risk. Chronic stress can create a range of symptoms that affect your well-being including irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, weakened immune system, high blood sugar, increased risk of heart attack or heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive issues, low sex drive and more.
Our natural response to stress causes our body to release several stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. Both of these hormones can increase your concentration, strength and your ability to react quickly. Your heart rate and blood pressure will also increase, and your immune system and memory will be sharper at first until the stressful situation passes, then your body will easily return back to normal. Short term stress is not an issue, and our bodies are designed to deal with these types of situations appropriately, but if you are constantly dealing with chronic stress and your body is on hyper-alert all the time it can cause serious health problems. The effects of stress hormones in health and illness can include a wide range of symptoms and complications, here are some of the most common issues that can be a result of chronic stress.
- Your digestive system can suffer, and you may begin to experience chronic stomach pains due to a slow-down in the way that food is digested after eating. On the other hand, you could also experience diarrhea due to more activity in the colon.
- Obesity is a common side effect of chronic stress since many people use emotional eating as a coping method. An increase in appetite or turning to food for comfort will inevitably lead to weight gain. Being overweight or obese also puts you at risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Your nervous system will be affected, and you can experience memory problems as well as difficulty in making important decisions. You are also at risk for suffering from anxiety, depression, insomnia and overall lack of interest in physical activity and exercise.
It’s important to be able to differentiate between short term stress and chronic stress, as well as to adopt healthy coping skills to help you manage your stress. Common practices like yoga, meditation, regular exercise and simply taking a walk outdoors can help you learn to relax, remove yourself from the stressful situation and relieve the feelings of stress that you are experiencing. Following a healthy and balanced diet full of anti-inflammatory and hormone balancing foods is also essential to keeping your cortisol and adrenaline levels within normal levels. If you are constantly dealing with chronic stress, then you should seek professional medical attention to help identify the source of stress and figure out the best way to manage it.
Experiencing chronic stress and the effects of stress hormones on your body is not pleasant, and it will hinder any weight loss that you may have achieved. If you are suffering from the effects of stress hormones and looking for a way to get back on track to be the best version of yourself then contact our team to learn about our weight loss programs and products. We are dedicated to helping our clients achieve their health and wellness goals so they can look and feel healthy!