How Stress Affects the Body – Easy Everyday Tips to Reduce Stress 

We all know that stress can be, well, stressful. It can come along with physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that are detrimental to your life and health, but did you know exactly how stress affects the body? It can even cause a shortened lifespan due to all its negative side effects!

Stress is overwhelming – source

Learn the symptoms and risks associated with stress and how to help manage and prevent it in your daily life today with this complete guide.

What is Stress

Stress is a response our body has to intense, high-pressure situations. Different events and experiences can cause stress. There are instances where stress is normal, especially when you are reacting to a new or potentially dangerous situation. In these cases, the body is flooded with hormones and chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. These have a physical reaction that prepares you to face the challenge.


There are different types of stress, and wouldn’t you know it, some forms of stress can actually be good for you!

For example, the short-term stress that is a result of exercise. When you work out, sometimes the body releases cortisol, the stress hormone in response to the activity. However, this can be good, as small doses of stress are associated with higher performance, improved memory, and boosted pain threshold.

In fact, exercise is a form of acute stress or short-term stress. Acute stress can happen in response to any sort of challenge or if you encounter a new situation. It can be stress due to a presentation at work, going to a new school, or even nerves from getting on a roller coaster. As the situation passes, your body returns to normal.

The situation becomes hazardous when it becomes chronic stress or long-term stress. Extended periods of stress can negatively impact your health, mentally, emotionally, and physically.


If stress becomes long-term and chronic, it can come with different risks that affect your well-being. It can affect your mood, causing anxiety, restlessness, and a lack of motivation in general. There can also be some behavioral changes, such as becoming irritated easily, exercising less often, or avoiding friends and family. Finally, there are physical changes to health as a result of stress.

How Stress Affects the Body

Stress is a biological response that has been hardwired into our system. From the moment our body encounters stress, our adrenal gland releases chemicals like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These have a physical effect on the body.

Fight or Flight

This is the natural response our species has had for centuries, which is a contributor to modern-day stress. It enabled our ancestors in the past to escape from potentially dangerous situations by using adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine to respond. If there was a predator, our ancestors had but moments to prepare to fight or run away.

This response causes the heart rate to increase, raises blood pressure, and reduces digestion in the body (no need to focus on digesting food if you need to fight or run).

Cardiovascular Health

The rise in heart rate and blood pressure due to adrenaline over time cause hypertension in the body. Science has since found that this process can trigger atherosclerosis, which is when cholesterol plaque builds up in the blood vessels. This increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Gut Health

When you are going through high levels of stress constantly, your body tends to turn on the autonomic nervous system, the part of the body responsible for fight or flight and stress response. As stress occurs your brain turns on this response and signals to the interstitial nervous system. Yup, there are neurons in your gut that communicate directly to the brain via the gut-brain axis. It can be where the sayings feeling butterflies or a gut feeling come from.

This disturbs the digestive tract, decreases digestion, and can lead to detrimental diseases like irritable bowel syndrome. This can even increase heartburn and acid reflux as a result of poor digestive health. It can eventually lead to ulcers, which are sores in the lining of the stomach caused by infection, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and rare cancers. Stress negatively impacts the immune system which in turn makes you susceptible to these infections.

Stress even changes the microbiome, the gut bacteria responsible for absorbing nutrients, immune health, metabolism, and more. This can decrease overall health exponentially.


Long-term health makes you more likely to crave energy-dense foods like carbohydrates and fats. Stress tends to make the body want to consume and store energy too, so this may cause you to stress eat and binge on foods even when you aren’t really hungry. It can lead to metabolic syndrome, lower energy, and unintentional weight gain.

The dangerous part is that weight put on as a response to stress tends to be deep fat or visceral fat. This fat actively releases cytokines, chemicals that increase your risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.

Life Span 

Chronic stress has been associated with shortened telomeres as well. These are the ends of chromosomes that measure a cell’s age. They give DNA instructions every time a cell divides, which allows it to repair and regrow without damage. They naturally decrease in size as we age with each cell division, which is why some of the symptoms of aging occur. Too short telomeres signal that the cell can no longer divide. Long-term stress, however, tends to boost this process, shortening life span and deteriorating health.

Even More Ways Stress Affects the Body

Stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, joint pain, acne, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, tiredness, insomnia, irritability, and inflammation throughout the body, which leads to even more problems. Therefore, it is important to manage stress. There will always be difficult, new, or challenging situations in life. What matters though, is how you manage and react to them.

Easy Tips to Reduce Stress

Here are some stress management tips that can help you reduce and overcome stressful situations. 

  • Learn to regulate emotions – while not always necessary, there are indeed some ways that can help you regulate your emotions which include redirection, analyzing thoughts, or even working through it with light exercise. Get a full guide here for free.
  • Breathe deeply and consciously – deep, slow breaths activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the body responsible for rest and relaxation.
  • Focus on what you can control  – one mindset to shift to is focusing on what you can control in challenges instead of fixating on things you cannot control.
  • Mediate daily – did you know the brain of someone who mediates is different from the brain of someone who does not? Make meditation a habit to help you regulate your stress levels and find more inner peace in your day-to-day life.

The Takeaway

Stress is inevitable as we go through life, however, knowing how stress affects the body may help us want to avoid it. There are different types of stress, like acute and long-term, chronic stress. Long-term stress is the type we should worry about, as it can have detrimental effects on your entire body, physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, you can be managed if you know the right tips and make simple daily habit changes, such as meditation and breathing. This won’t get rid of stress, but it can help you manage it in a healthy way. 

Health starts from within, so eat nutritious food, exercise when you can, and take care of your mental wellbeing. Plus, remember to take care of gut health as well! The microbiota affects metabolism, the muscles, the immune system, digestion, and more! Get all the resources you need about microbiota health for free here!

Spread the love

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *