7 Surprising Ways Stress is Affecting Your Health
We’ve all experienced stress at some point in our lives. Whether it’s caused by frantic daily activities like trying to rush through a traffic jam or something more substantial like financial worries, stress can be an ever-present problem.
Whatever the reason, our bodies immediately spring into action, trying to decide whether to deal with the issue at hand or avoid it altogether. This is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response.
When it comes to stress, this response — and the whole process — can have some significant and surprising effects. Below, we’ve outlined seven ways in which stress can affect your health that you may not have known about.
Table of Contents
1. Food Cravings
Stress can also cause you to have cravings for food, specifically those with high contents of sugar and fat. This is commonly referred to as “stress eating” and has been shown to be caused by the presence of a hormone called cortisol.
While trying to bring down your stress levels, a good way to tackle these cravings is by having a storage of healthy snacks around at all times.
This means that when your body feels like it needs a good helping of stress eating, you can have snacks on hand that won’t have such a negative effect on your overall health.
3. Impact on Memory
Studies have shown that stress can potentially have a damaging effect on memory. Someone who is overly-stressed can experience difficulties in both retrieving old memories and forming new ones.
This is caused by the body secreting stress hormones, in reaction to the stress felt. Over secretion of these hormones can then have a damaging effect on areas of the brain related to memory. Experiencing some loss of memory may be a sign that you’re overly stressed.
3. Hair Loss
For many of us, hair loss can unfortunately be a natural occurrence as we get older. However, it can also be accelerated — and even directly caused — by stress. Noticing small amounts of hair loss can be completely normal but if you begin to notice that you’re losing significantly more than normal then stress could be the culprit.
This can often lead to people seeking hair loss treatments such as specialized shampoos, medications, or even a hair transplant. Reducing your stressful lifestyle can help to slow down or reverse hair loss.
4. Sleep Deprivation
People who are feeling stressed often find that they struggle to get a good night’s sleep. The inability to fall asleep, also known as insomnia, can result directly from negative or stressful thoughts.
If you find that you’re waking up more than twice every night, then this could be a sign that you’re stressed. There are many things that you can do to improve your sleep. For example, try to create an environment that’s geared towards a relaxing night’s sleep. This can include things like comfortable lighting, bedding, temperature, and noise level.
5. Exacerbated Pain
This may not be something that immediately comes to mind when thinking of stress and its effects. However, it has been shown that high levels of psychological stress can increase physical pains.
Whether it be joint, muscle, or bone pains, studies have concluded that stress, anxiety, and depression showed direct correlations with higher levels of physical pain. Therefore, trying to relax mentally can also help to ease any physical pains that you may have.
6. Risk of Diabetes
In 2018, the American Psychological Association found that there was a link between increased stress levels and the risk of developing diabetes.
They discovered that during times of high levels of stress, the previously mentioned hormone cortisol can cause the liver to produce high levels of glucose. For most people, this won’t cause any problems and the blood sugar will simply be reabsorbed.
However, for those whose bodies may already have trouble absorbing glucose, this extra production can overwhelm their system. This can then increase the risk of developing diabetes.
7. Limited Blood Flow to the Heart
We all know the importance of the heart in the overall functioning of our bodies. It’s literally and figuratively the “beating heart” of our entire system.
However, it’s been shown that high levels of stress can cause conditions that lead to limited blood flow to the heart. If left untreated, this can develop into more serious conditions such as a blocked artery or even a heart attack.
About The Author:
Andrew Mackay is a Medical Researcher and Health Expert at qunomedical.com. He covers a number of healthcare-related topics and closely follows new trends within the industry.