How Stress Can Impact Your Physical Health

Danielle Capozza
January 26, 2024
8 minutes

It’s pretty obvious that stress impacts mental health. It is often tied to depression and anxiety that makes us withdraw from society. It makes us lose focus which can be detrimental to our work or school progress.

But stress can also be harmful on a physical level. Read on to find the many ways it can impact your physical health.

Increases the Risk of Heart Conditions

When you feel stressed, your heart rate speeds up, and your blood pressure rises. This activity is not a big deal if it occurs occasionally, but if it happens frequently, it can take a toll on your heart health. High levels of sustained stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. These can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and other cardiovascular issues.

It Can Lead to Obesity

People often eat when they are stressed. The food offers comfort when they are dealing with emotional instability. Experiencing frequent stress may cause individuals to consume more calories than their recommended caloric intake. This type of diet is particularly hazardous if the foods they eat are processed and high in sugar and unhealthy fats.

Excessive eating leads to obesity, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other health conditions.

On the other hand, partaking in healthy foods are ideal for stress relief. If you feel stressed often, consider consuming them in moderation.

Pressure Points Cause Discomfort

Stress causes people to tense up. If your body is constantly tense, it can cause headaches and migraines. It can also cause musculoskeletal issues like arthritis, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and fibromyalgia. If you tense up often to produce unhealthy postures, stretch and engage in other stress-relieving activities to avoid these conditions.

Digestive Issues

The gut contains the most nerves in the body outside the brain. It is often called the “second brain.”

When the body encounters stress, it suppresses the digestive system to trigger fight or flight. It does this by slowing digestive muscle contractions and decreasing secretions for digestion.

If the stress response happens often, it makes it harder for the body to recover from feelings of stress. It can contribute to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcers. It also causes bloating, gas, heartburn, and other digestive issues.

Stress and Immunity

Stress creates a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can suppress your immune system, reducing its ability to fight off invaders. It lowers the number of lymphocytes in the blood and interferes with white blood cell communication.

A stressed individual may also engage in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, drinking, and drug use. These habits further lower immunity making a person more prone to illness and disease.

Bad for Skin

Have you ever gotten so nervous you flush or sweat? These reactions are signs of the deep connections between the brain and the skin.

However, the relationship between stress and skin goes beyond simple flushing. Stress triggers the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis of the brain to produce inflammatory factors that send immune cells from the bloodstream into the skin. This activity contributes to acne and other skin conditions.

Stress also disrupts the skin’s epidermal barrier. The disruption can lead to conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and wounds. Meditation and other relaxation techniques may reduce stress and improve the skin’s appearance.

Causes Hair Loss and Graying

The effects stress has on the skin may also cause hair loss. One type of hair loss, telogen effluvium, may be triggered by psychological stress. This condition may inhibit hair growth as well.

Stress also releases norepinephrine, a hormone that depletes pigment-producing stem cells in the hair follicle. So when you hear someone referring to stress making their hair gray, they aren’t kidding!

Negatively Affects Reproductive Health

Stress has several harmful effects on reproductive health. It can reduce sex drive in both men and women. Men who are dealing with stress may experience impotence.

Several studies have also found links between stress and infertility in women. Women with high levels of alpha-amylases (an enzyme that marks stress) in their saliva took 29% longer to get pregnant than those with lower stress levels.

Stress also affects your hormones which can affect ovulation and your period. Women with high-stress levels may get irregular periods. They may also experience severe symptoms of PMS.

Hanu Health Can Help

If you are experiencing high-stress levels that affect your physical health, Hanu Health can help.

The Hanu Health app provides feedback and suggests personalized exercises that improve your mental and emotional wellness, allowing you to feel better and gain control.

Don’t let stress affect your physical health. Download Hanu Health today. We will provide you with the tools you need to improve your well-being.