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mental health / wellness

How Stress Affects the Body

by BetterSleep
Jun 17 • 4 min read

Most people think about stress as a mental and emotional state. Still, it has a significant impact on your physical health physical symptoms people experience are not a result of an illness but excessive stress. Once you know what stress can do to your body, you can learn to recognize it and take steps to lessen or better manage it.

Stress and Your Heart

Many of the physical symptoms of stress are uncomfortable, but the effect on your heart can eventually be deadly. Short-term stress causes your heart to beat faster and stronger. It dilates blood vessels and raises blood pressure.

With chronic stress, these effects contribute to cardiovascular disease. The more you experience excessive stress, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure, a heart attack, or a stroke.

Stress and Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Digestive symptoms of stress are common. Your gut is full of millions of neurons that communicate with the brain. It also contains a bacterial ecosystem that can become unbalanced during periods of stress. You might experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

Stress Headaches and Other Pains

The experience of stress causes tension throughout the body that can lead to immediate and ongoing pain. Tension headaches, for example, are common with stress. You might also experience muscle aches for the same reason.

Stress Can Make You Sick

Stress can cause you pain in other ways. A sore throat from stress, for instance, can result from lowered immunity causing you to be more vulnerable to infections. Many studies have proven that stress impacts immunity through complicated chemical processes. If you’re getting sick more often, it could be due to stress.

Stress Hives and Rashes

Stress can cause your skin to break out in hives, an itchy, inflamed rash that can also be painful. Women are more susceptible to stress hives than anyone who gets hives in reaction to an allergen, but it can happen to anyone.

Does Stress Cause Nosebleeds?

A nose bleed from stress is not the most common reaction, but it can happen. The cause is often indirect, as in the case of a tension headache that causes nose bleeding. High blood pressure, which can also result from stress, triggers nosebleeds.

How Does Stress Affect Sleep?

Stress and sleep often co-exist in a damaging cycle. When stressed, you find it harder to sleep. Not getting adequate sleep worsens stress or your ability to cope with it. Stress is one of the most common reasons people struggle to get quality sleep.

Managing Stress Symptoms

Getting more sleep, eating well, regular exercise, time with friends, and taking time off from responsibilities help manage and reduce stress. You might also want to try relaxation techniques, deep breathing, and meditation to cope with stress.

Symptoms of excessive stress include both emotional and physical signs. Don’t ignore the messages your body is sending. They could indicate you have too much stress in your life.

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