Stress is such a big part of our lives these days, that most often people neglect it and don’t seek relief unless it gets worse. But by the time you get to see the side effects of stress, it’s already time to stop the hectic living and find a solution to the problem, before it gets in the way of thinking clearly, doing your work and enjoying life.
The main side effects of stress can be put into 2 categories: external and internal. Let’s start with how stress affects our body before we move onto its negative consequences on our mental and spiritual well-being.
How Stress Can Lead to Physical Complications
When you find yourself in a stressful situation, be it a real or imaginary one, the stress hormones are activated and they trigger what is called the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response.
The biochemical reaction that follows looks like this: You get an adrenaline rush and your muscles get tensed so that the body can prevent injury and physical pain. Your heart starts beating faster and pumping more blood. Your blood pressure and glucose levels increase too.
Other functions stop (such as digestion and the immune system ) so that your survival instincts can work better and you can get out of the stressful situation.
When it’s over, you release the tension from your muscles, start breathing normally again and lower your heart rate.
However, with the busy lifestyle we’re all having and the many little stressors around us, the ‘fight or flight’ response of the body is triggered way too often. Which leads to a condition we call chronic stress and the average person suffers from it.
The physical side effects of stress can look like this:
- Chest pain;
- Disturbed sleep;
- Muscle pain;
- Lack of energy;
- Rapid heartbeat;
- Upset stomach;
What to do to relieve those?
For a start, that’s when seeing a chiropractor can help. A specialist will help you not just treat the symptoms, but also get to the underlying stress and let out all the pressure you’re keeping inside of you.
Then, there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make, and they don’t need to be big or drastic.
Exercising is a proven method for stress relief. But choose something you enjoy. Could be jogging twice a week, hitting the gym a few times a week, stretching every morning and doing some quick exercises after that, or even taking up a new sport as a hobby.
Your food matters too. While junk food can lead to lack of energy and even signs of depression, the opposite can cure your stress.
I’m talking about fruits and veggies whose vitamins and nutrients will raise your happiness levels and keep you in a good mood. Green tea is another natural remedy that heals anxiety due to its ingredient l-theanine. Make sure you consume it on a daily basis, though.
Next, don’t forget your proteins and healthy fats. Omega-3 is great for the heart, but also brings cortisol (the stress hormone) to its normal levels. Its benefits on anxiety and inflammation are science-backed too.
What are the best sources of omega-3 amino acids? Well, make sure you add nuts, fish and seafood, flax seeds and meat from grass-fed animals to your menu.
Now, let’s see how to have a more peaceful life by releasing the stress from your mind.
The Side Effects of Stress on The Brain
The second category of stress symptoms refers to our mind and emotions.
You might be pretty familiar with anxiety, for instance. If you’re anticipating an event in the near future, you might play different scenarios in your mind and imagine how it can go wrong.
That causes quite many negative emotions and you start fearing it the closer it gets. You might find yourself having a hard time falling asleep, losing appetite, avoiding talking about it, or getting depressed.
Another way stress is hurting your brain is if you have let many factors become more of a stressor rather than a stage of life. That could be your job, a difficult relationship, starting a business, money problems, moving to a new city, work overload, etc.
All these are part of almost anybody’s life. But how you react to them and whether or not you’re overthinking and focusing on the negative, can result in more stress for you.
Then, if you’re constantly worried about losing your job, things going wrong with a new project, going bankrupt, having your heart broken, planning the ideal wedding or another big event, or else, you’ll experience chronic stress.
That means your cortisol levels will be exploding almost 24/7, and that will be causing similar reactions in your body to those of an actual dangerous situation.
Researchers have found that high levels of cortisol can damage the brain structure.
The mind and body are more connected than we realize.
How stress affects them both is a good example of this special connection. The moment you start imagining something bad in your mind, your body experiences it as if it’s actually happening right now.
But even things like information overload (too much social media that then doesn’t let you clear your mind), high expectations, having regrets for the past or living in the future, can let you see the side effects of stress.
To stop that and manage your stress levels, you need a peaceful mind and a healthy brain. And there are plenty of ways to achieve that.
Start with meditation. We all need to slow down first and to be able to do one thing at a time. Meditation means sitting in a quiet place for a couple of minutes once or twice a day, breathing deeply and filling your body with oxygen while emptying your mind. It takes some time but can soon bring peace and help you handle stress better.
Then, define and eliminate the causes of stress in your life. Dig deeper into your mind and try to find out what’s bringing pressure to your life. Make a list and set some time aside to make a plan on how to remove each. Or at least think of reducing its negative influence on you.
Find a new hobby and let it take your mind away from what’s stressing you. Learning a new language, traveling every now and then, starting a business on the side, exercising regularly, volunteering, taking a course, or else. All these can be beneficial to become more productive and creative and less stressed.
So what are the side effects of stress in your life?
Now that you know how it affects your mind and body, what the consequences can be, and how you can treat that, you can take action right away.