How Stress Effects Us

Before we discuss alternative ways to manage stress, we must understand how it affects us and what it is responsible for.

Stress can be defined as a state of physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension that results from adverse or demanding circumstances. It can also be used to describe a chronic state of imbalance in response to stressful events.

A mild level of stress and tension can be beneficial especially when fulfilling an assignment. It helps us to do a good job and complete the task in a timely fashion. Stress is also needed in order to keep ourselves out of harm’s way. It is meant to be a temporary response and our bodies are meant to return to their normal state after the situation has passed. It is only when stress is poorly managed the negative effects appear. So, what are the negative effects of stress?

This article will discuss;

The body’s response to stress

  1. The different types of stress
  2. The different types of stressors
  3. The psychological effects of stress
  4. The physical effects of stress
  5. Why it’s important to keep stress balanced

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The Body’s Response to Stress

Stress activates the energy response system in your body. The hormones adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, and cortisol are released to increase your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. And reserves of blood cells and sugar flood the bloodstream.

In small doses, this response activates the immune system. But in excess, it causes immune suppression. In turn, immune suppression is the contributing factor to 95% of all illness. In fact, it is reported that 70% to 90% of all doctor visits are due to stress-related complaints with varying symptoms.

Types of Stress

Stress affects nearly everyone in one form or another. The most common types are:

  • Acute. This is the fight or flight response that the body uses to defend itself and usually lasts for a short period before your body returns to normal. Examples that can trigger this kind of stress are getting caught in a traffic jam, an argument with your spouse or friend, or criticism from your boss.
  • Traumatic. This type of stress happens when a person is no longer in danger but feels stressed or frightened after experiencing a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Examples that can trigger this kind of stress are a car accident, a building on fire, a report of war on the news, the death of a loved one, or sexual, verbal, or physical abuse.
  • Chronic. This is the constant strain of daily life in which the sufferer feels they have little or no control. Examples that can trigger this type of stress are the death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, financial obligations, getting married, moving to a new house, or chronic illness.

Types of Stressors

A stressor can be defined as any event, experience, or environmental stimulus that causes stress in a person. The different types of stressors are:

  • Biological. This is caused by exposure to bacteria, viruses, molds, and parasites.
  • Chemical. This is caused by exposure to toxins, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, heavy metals, household and industrial chemicals, fumes, dust, smoke, tobacco, and synthetic drugs.
  • Environmental. This is caused by exposure to extreme cold or heat, noise, ultraviolet light, changes in barometric pressure, altitude changes, allergens, electromagnetic waves, and radiation.
  • Nutritional. This is caused by food allergies, refined and processed foods, mineral depleted foods, nutritional deficiencies, alcohol, and drugs.
  • Physical. This is caused by high blood pressure, strenuous physical activity, surgery, trauma, starvation, dehydration, lack of oxygen, intoxication, drug use, sleep deprivation, severe illness, infection, or having a baby.
  • Psychological. This is caused by depression, anger, fear, anxiety, worry, desire, grief, loss, mental illness, major change, mental trauma, and overwhelming responsibility.
  • Spiritual. This is caused by a sense of the loss of meaning in life.

All factors that are considered to be stressors strongly affect psychological and physical functions.

Psychological Effects of Stress

The brain is part of the nervous system. It is responsible for basic body functions, movement, senses, intelligence, learning, and memory. When stressed, we may suffer from psychological effects. These include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • insomnia
  • lack of concentration
  • migraine headaches
  • poor memory
  • sleep deprivation

Physical Effects of Stress

When the body is under stress, it is using more energy. The result is that the body’s energy supply is depleted because nutrients are being converted to energy. This can cause:

  • adrenal fatigue
  • aging and early death
  • arthritis
  • poor athletic performance
  • breathing problems
  • cancer
  • cardiovascular dysfunction
  • diabetes
  • digestion issues
  • poor eyesight
  • fatigue
  • impaired immune system
  • liver damage
  • poor muscle and bone health
  • impaired mind-body-spirit health
  • sexual and hormonal disorders
  • disorders with skin, hair, and nails
  • sleep problems
  • damaged urinary system
  • weight gain

Stress affects every area of the body. And it affects each one of us differently. Our symptoms and ailments will differ from person to person based off of personality, environment, and the duration of being in a stressful situation.

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The Importance of Managing Stress

This article helped us see that;

  • stress is the leading cause of illness and disease,
  • the three main types of stress are acute, traumatic, and chronic,
  • stress factors can be biological, chemical, environmental, nutritional, physical, psychological, and spiritual,
  • stress puts our mental and emotional health is at risk and,
  • our physical health suffers because our energy supple becomes depleted.

So it is necessary to keep stress under control. If not kept in check, our health, well-being, and vitality are in danger.

The next article with discuss my favorite stress management books.

As always, if you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Thank you, Danica at Let’s Roll With the Punches

*References from Healthline, The American Institute of Stress, and the book Adaptogens Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.

10 thoughts on “How Stress Effects Us

  • This was all explained SO well Danica! I’m happy you are doing this and trying to help other people. I can’t wait to see what more your site has to offer! I have been trying to focus on different natural stress remedies myself as anxiety has been HUGE for me lately because of my current home situation. I’m SO happy you’ve been feeling better! 😌

    • Thank you for your positive feed back, Amelia! I really appreciate you! I’m sorry your home life is causing you anxiety. I can totally relate to those kinds of circumstances. What I have discovered has greatly reduced my anxiety and I hope the information I share can help you find something that works for you too. Wishing you the Best!

  • I knew that stress could cause a number of surprising issues, but I had no idea that it could even lead to liver damage or poor muscle and bone health. When is the post about how to combat evil stress? We could all use it. I know when I went through my divorce, my hair started falling out and I lost a lot of sleep. I actually also had a number of dental problems that I never had before, now that I think about it. I really appreciate your post. It’s super informative and knowledge about a problem is the first step.

    • It was surprising to me too when I learned how much stress can affect us. And it affects everyone of us in a different way. I’m sorry it attacked you the way it did. In my research I found some things to help keep it in check and those articles are coming soon 😊

  • Education on stressors and how to relieve them naturally is lacking in a world full of people that just want a pill to fix everything. Thank you for your research and efforts to make a change for the better.

  • The article mentioned allergens as an environmental stressor. This late summer- fall had been terrible for allergies. I didn’t think about how stressed out they make me, but they really do. I am always worried about the next attack, besides just being irritating and terribly uncomfortable, allergies make me unhappy. I wouldn’t have put that together without this article, thanks!!

  • Wow, it’s just unbelievable how damaging stress can be in people’s lives and health. It’s true what they say ‘stress kills!’; how many of us suffer from these diseases on your list and have no idea that they could be down to stress? Many, I’m thinking.
    Thanks for this very informative and highly interesting post!

  • Very helpful post!
    I think that there is not enough attention given to stress management.
    I have definitely had days where I seemed to get a headache out of nowhere but when I really thought about how stressed I was that day it actually did make sense.
    I try to do all the little things to properly rest and recover from hard days. I always try to include extra down time in my schedule to compensate for any unexpected stresses that come up in life.
    Thank you for a very informative post!

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