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How Stress Can Affect Your Body

Stress will happen to everyone – it’s inevitable! We live busy lives and we live in a fast paced culture, meaning, we cannot control our exposure to stress. However, in small amounts stress is good. Eustress is one type of good stress. It is the butterflies you feel before a test. The adrenaline that pumps through your body when threatened. Otherwise known as fight or flight. This eustress boosts cognitive skills. Thus, you become more focused. More attuned to what is going on around you. Unfortunately, the other types of stress, in the form of worry or anxiety, can lead to some pretty damaging side effects on our bodies, both inside and out, in many different ways.

Stress is exhausting

A frantic brain doesn’t sleep. In fact, just the opposite! Stress and overwhelm will likely keep you awake at night as it constantly turns over the same thoughts. All that overthinking can make it hard to get restful and quality sleep. That also means you might feel more inclined to skip your workout, especially if you are exhausted or running low on sleep. But stressful times are the times you need your workout MOST! Exercise can help relieve stress and help you to feel more energized, which leads to increased productivity.

Stress can lead to weight gain

Binge-eating and comfort eating is often triggered by stress, so if you are an emotional eater, this may be a problem. When you’re tired, you are also likely to make poorer food choices, often relying on a quick pick-me-up because you’re tired and/or want something convenient.

Add into that equation the fact that cortisol (the stress hormone) can lead to a decreased metabolism and you have a recipe for weight gain, that can happen fast.

Stress wreaks havoc on your skin and hair

If you’ve ever had a breakout right before a big presentation or event, you probably already know this and may have wondered why! As a result of stress, our bodies increase production of androgen (a hormone found in both men and women), you may be more prone to acne, breakouts and you may shed more hair than usual when you’re feeling stressed.

Stress can lead to increased risk of illness

Many illnesses are the result of a weakened immune system, caused by increased stress. Regular doses of stress often leads to adverse mental conditions. It does physical harm to bodily systems as well. Worst of all, long term stress destroys your disease fighting army.

In most cases, the culprit of the immune system being affected by ongoing stress is high levels of cortisol. As with any substance, longevity and amount creates a resistance. This tolerance idea exists with cortisol. When the body becomes resistant, the substance response becomes abnormal. Inflammation is good for local areas. However, chronic inflammation is bad for organs and tissues. Proper healing and infection fighting ceases. Autoimmune conditions pop up. The body begins to attack itself. Chronic stress often leads to adverse mental conditions. It does physical harm to bodily systems as well.

Stress can leave you feeling stiff and sore

You might not have realized that stress can affect your muscles and cause you to feel stiff. This happens because both your blood pressure and heart rate increase, which can make your muscles tighten up. While this is helpful if you need to quickly move out of harm’s way, it can leave you in pain if your body is tense for a long period of time.

While stress is a common part of our lives, it’s important to know that long-term stress can lead to physical side effects like these. I’m a big believer in the benefits of exercise for reducing stress and practicing self-care can help you to focus on what your body and mind need. Sometimes you just need a break, sometimes you may need to look at what is causing stress in your life and see what you can do to reduce it.

Take care of yourselves!

CH

🍎If you find yourself in search of a new exercise routine, need a new approach to fueling your body with the right foods or could use some accountability along your journey to a better you — or maybe all of the above, consider joining our virtual gym, where I will help you to create a custom plan for your fitness, nutrition while doing so in a community of others, working on their own. Check it out here: fitwithchip.com/train.

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