5 Ways Stress Affects Your Body, Mind, and Mood

Plus, easy ways you can start managing your stress today.
Aches and pains are a normal response to stress and anxiety. But when you have pain for a while or aches and stiffness that never go away, then there’s something bigger going on.
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Stress is a completely normal part of life. 

It helps you survive dangerous situations. It gives you a boost to work harder and faster when you have a tight deadline. You’ve been there before. 

But which type of stress did you actually experience? Could it be affecting other areas of your life too? 

Let’s find out.

The 3 Most Common Types of Stress

The 3 most common types of stress are: 

Acute stress – short-term stress you experience many times a day. Luckily, you can recover from acute stress quickly, making it the least damaging type of stress. An example of acute stress is when you have to hit the brakes when a light turns red, unexpectedly.

Episodic acute stress – when you experience acute stress on a regular basis. This can happen because you’re taking too much on at work, or you’re overwhelmed with taking care of a sick parent. Episodic acute stress is often present in those who are impatient, easily get upset, or have personality type A.

Episodic acute stress can be particularly troublesome because it can cause you to develop:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Recurring headaches

Chronic stress – this is where things start getting a little messy. When your body is in a state of chronic stress, it never gets a break. You’re constantly feeling stressed, so your nervous system doesn’t have a chance to calm down. 

With no break, you get stuck in a cycle of constant stress, literally every system, organ, and tissue in your body is affected. There is no escape. And your body, your mind, and your mood pay the price. 

Here’s how.

5 Ways Stress Affects Your Body, Mind, and Mood

Stress can affect your body in many ways. Here we’ll dive into a few of the most common ways stress affects your body, mind, and mood.

#1: Stress Can Cause Muscle and Joint Pain

Aches and pains are a normal response to stress and anxiety. But when you have pain for a while or aches and stiffness that never go away, then there’s something bigger going on. 

You see, when you’re stressed, your muscles tense to protect themselves from injury until the stress goes away.¹ When you’re constantly stressed (anxiety may be the culprit here), your muscles never get the chance to relax, which can cause some serious problems, including:²

  • Headaches
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Body aches

Over time, this muscle and joint pain can worsen and make it harder to get through simple day-to-day tasks.

#2: Stress Affects Your Heart and Lung Health

Stress can be hard on your heart. Stress makes your heart rate increase and in turn, raises your blood pressure. If you don’t learn to manage your stress, you increase your risk of:³

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

Stress can also make breathing difficult. This can cause issues for people who have asthma or lung disease. Plus, stress can lead to hyperventilation (rapid breathing) and induce panic attacks.⁴

#3: Acute and Chronic Stress Puts Your Skin and Hair at Risk

Yup, you read that right. Stress affects your skin and hair. Let’s check out all the signs and symptoms of stressed-out skin and hair so you know what to look out for:⁵

  • Inflammation and extra irritated skin – flare-ups in skin conditions like rosacea, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, or hives. 
  • Oily skin + acne – stress causes unbalanced hormones and chemicals that ramp up oil production making you break out. 
  • Hair loss + peeling nails – the stress hormone, cortisol, can cause you to pull at your hair and pick at your nails. 
  • Super-sensitive skin – abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can cause skin to become paper-thin. This can put your skin at risk for painful tears and bruising. 
  • Your natural healing ability slows down – when you’re super stressed, you’re at a higher risk of getting sick. Your skin’s ability to naturally heal scrapes and cuts slows way down too. 
  • Dark circles + wrinkles – Stress causes fits of restless nights. Eventually, you’ll no longer be able to deny the dark circles forming under your eyes and wrinkles revealing your age. 

#4: Stress Upsets Your Stomach

Have you ever heard someone complaining about an upset stomach when they’re stressed? Turns out, stress messes with your gut. Here are some stress-related gut symptoms and conditions to look out for:⁶

  • Indigestion
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unnatural hunger
  • Nausea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcers

So next time you find yourself making constant trips to the bathroom, or reaching for the antacids – it may not be the leftovers you had for lunch, it could be stress-related symptoms.

#5: The Mental Health and Stress Connection

If you haven’t guessed already, stress is largely connected to mental health. In fact, it’s widely believed that stress contributes to:⁷

  • Depression – making you feel sad, low, and less interested in things you once enjoyed.
  • Anxiety – causing you to intensely worry and fear about day-to-day situations. 
  • Psychosis – conditions that affect your mind and your ability to stay in touch with reality. 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – a serious mental health condition developed after a traumatic event.

If you’re experiencing any of these mental health conditions, reach out to your primary physician or mental health professional to discuss treatment options.

Easy Ways You Can Start Managing Stress Today

There’s no way to completely eliminate stress. The good news is you can do a few things to make your experience with stress more manageable. Here are some tips: 

De-stress With Guided Meditation 

When you meditate, you become deeply relaxed. And with that newfound relaxation, you rid yourself of all negative and worrying thoughts. This easily alleviates stress because all those thoughts and worries are what made you stressed in the first place. 

Plus, when you practice guided meditation every day, you could enhance your physical and emotional well-being. 

Breathe In Calm and Exhale Stress With Deep Breathing

Without a doubt, deep breathing is one of the best ways to reduce stress. That’s because when you breathe deeply, you’re sending a message to your brain to be calm and relax. Your brain responds by sending a message to your body so your elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and tense muscles can return to normal levels. 

Move Your Body and Feed It Nutritious Food to Manage Stress

The way your body reacts to stress has a lot to do with how you take care of it on a daily basis. Make sure you’re moving your body and eating nutritious food to fuel your day.  

When you move your body, you get a natural increase in feel-good endorphins, making you feel great. This helps relieve stress and improves your well-being.

Feeding your body nutritious food is equally important. When you’re stressed your body has to work harder to compensate for that. Typically, your body has to kick up your metabolism to compensate for all the extra energy that stress eats up. That’s just one reason why you need to replenish your body with nutrition. 

Watch Your Stress Levels Drop After a Social Media Fast

We’re sure you can agree that being on social media can be overwhelming. All your friends and family are there, so it’s easy to spend quite a bit of time scrolling your social feeds. The thing is, when you’re on social media a lot, you can inspire feelings of:

  • Inadequacy
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)
  • Disatisfaction
  • Isolation

This is when social media can actually make your anxiety, depression, or stress symptoms worse. And that’s why, when you take some time off of social media, your mood and mental health start to improve. 

Find a Sense of Community 

As humans, we’re naturally social beings. We need support, and that’s why finding a sense of community is such an important element to your wellness. You can find your own version of community with those you work with, your church organization, or a fun activity you have in common with others. 

Even when you’re not dealing with stress, a community helps you feel supported and accepted.

It’s Undeniable Stress Affects A Lot of Things In Life

Stress can affect a lot of areas of your life. And that’s why it’s smart to stay in the know, so you can recognize symptoms of stress before they turn into painful conditions. 

It’s easy to stay in the know when you join the Brady’s Family. We give you sweet insider deals, and weekly blogs on all things lifestyle, pets, mindset, health, whole-plant extracts, and mental health. Plus, we’re here to support you in any way we can. Reach out to us for guidance and support. We’re here for you.

Subscribe below to join our Brady Family!

Resources

1. Stress Effects

2. How Does Stress Affect Muscle Pain

3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets Out of Control

4. Stress Effects On The Body

5. Your Skin On Stress: Acne, Hives, Rash, Bumps, Hair Loss, and More

6. How to Calm an Anxious Stomach: The Brain-Gut Connection

7. Stress and Our Mental Health: What Is The Impact & How Can We Tackle It

This Website offers health and wellness advice. This advice is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice, treatment, or diagnosis of a healthcare professional. Read our full disclaimer here.

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