On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, how stressed are you? Are you more stressed now than you were six months ago? Six years ago? Stress is something we all encounter on a regular basis, but when it starts to have a negative effect on your body and mind, it means you are distressed.
What many people don’t know is that stress is a state of being that negatively impacts the body. In fact, stress has a bigger impact on our bodies than most of us realize or care to acknowledge.
Stress and Your Body
There are some downright scary facts about the toll that stress takes on the body. When you look at these facts it is hard to deny that we all need to learn how to manage our stress more effectively. Some of these facts include:
- 43% of all adults have health problems related to stress
- 75-90% of all doctor visits are stress-related
- 82% of workers are at least a little stressed in the workplace
- Stress is known to cost American businesses more than $300 billion each year
7 Ways Stress Affects Your Health
There are two kinds of stress. The “good” stress is called eustress but we generally only hear about the “bad” stress known as chronic stress or distress.
Chronic stress gradually affects your health at first; in fact, you may not even notice the symptoms at all! And if the stress is not managed, the symptoms will get worse and its effects may even be irreversible.
Seven ways stress can affect you mentally and physically are:
- Depression. When you are stressed out, it is very common for people to become depressed. There are only so many chemicals in the brain to help a person deal with stress, and when they are used up, they’re used up. This can lead to a person becoming profoundly depressed in what seems like a relatively short period of time.
- Anxiety. Those who are stressed are likely to deal with uncontrollable levels of anxiety. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, and this can cause many different changes in the physiological functioning of the body.
- Heart disease. Stress is very closely linked to heart attacks and death associated with cardiovascular disease. When stress is not managed, the body breaks down quickly and the heart is often profoundly impacted.
- Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing epidemics in the world and both mental and physical stress can cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. The long-term effects associated with this include heart disease, blindness, liver problems, kidney disease, and more.
- Hair loss. We often tease our friends and family when they begin to lose hair, but this can be a symptom of unmanaged stress. If your hair is falling out prematurely don’t blame genetics, look closely at how you are dealing with the stress in your life and see if there are things you can do to control it more effectively.
- Obesity. We often cope with stress by consuming unhealthy, fattening foods. Plus, stress prohibits the control of necessary chemicals that are needed to break down fat, which can lead to obesity.
- Sexual dysfunction. Stress is one of the most common reasons associated with impotence in men.
This list of seven health issues is not all-inclusive. You may also suffer from hyperthyroidism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, tooth and gum disease, ulcers, and even cancer. Chronic stress is serious. Don’t accept it as just part of life. I know the stress I lived with for years contributed to many (if not all) of my health issues. We’ll be discussing ways to de-stress here on the blog, so check out the “Stress” category to learn more about the dangers of stress and how to better manage it.