Stress is any change in your environment that needs the body to react and adjust in response. Our body reacts to these changes with physical, psychological, and emotional responses. It is a regular part of your body but have you wondered how stress is changing the course of your life?
Several events that happen either to you or around you can stress your body. You can experience both good or bad forms of pressure depending upon some factors such as the environment, your body, and your thoughts. This blog will address how stress can affect your health and weight.
Effects of Stress on Health
The human body is meant to experience stress over time. It can also be positive during job promotion and given additional responsibilities, and your pressure will keep you alert and ready to avoid any danger to your position.
The same stress can become harmful when you face continuous challenges without getting any relief or relaxation between the obstacles. As a result, you feel pressured to start overworking, and this causes pressure-related tensions buildup.
The physical symptoms of distress include headaches, elevated blood pressure, upset stomach, chest pain, and trouble sleeping. Researches suggest that it can also bring or worsen specific symptoms of any pre-existing medical health condition.
Stress also becomes more harmful when individuals use tobacco, alcohol, or drugs as a step to relieve tension. Unfortunately, rather than offering relief and helping the body to get back to a relaxed state, these substances add more to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more health issues. Try considering the following:
- 43 percent of adults in the world suffer adverse effects of stress on their health
- Seventy-five percent to 90 percent of visits to medical healthcare professionals’ clinics are for stress-related
- ailments and complaints.
- Several health organizations have declared stress as a hazard in the workplace.
- Stress plays a prominent role in causing headaches, heart problems, high blood pressure, asthma, skin conditions, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and anxiety disorders.
- The lifetime sustenance of emotional disorder is more than 50 percent, often because of chronic, untreated stress reactions.
Stress and Weight Gain
When stress kicks in, reaches a peak or becomes challenging to manage, severe long-term health-related issues can occur. High blood pressure, insomnia, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and obesity are connected to untreated chronic stress. The risk associated with stress-related weight gain include:
- higher blood pressure
- heart disease
- decrease in lung and respiratory function
- reproductive problems
- an increase in joint pain
Additionally, there is evidence of a link between obesity and specific cancers such as esophageal, pancreatic, breast, colon, and kidney cancer. In particular, it can influence your psychological well-being. A radical expansion in uneasiness or melancholy can likewise happen when you inadvertently put on weight. The only way to check if your weight gain results from tension or not is to consult your medical healthcare professional.
Stress and Weight Loss
Some of the effects of stress on the bodily system include weight loss in different ways. Some of the reasons for stress-related weight loss include:
Inflammation and activation of vagal nerve
Stress and poor dietary choices linked to tension can cause widespread inflammation and weight loss. This inflammation can contribute to activation of the vagus nerve, which influences the gut processes and metabolization of food.
Fight-or-flight response of the body
When you feel anxious, the sympathetic nervous system triggers the release of adrenal (also called epinephrine) from the adrenal glands. An epinephrine rush activates the fight-or-flight response of the body, which prepares an individual to fight off or flee an impending threat. Adrenaline makes the heart beat rapidly and speeds up your breathing, which can burn calories. Additionally, it alters how the gut digests food and changes blood glucose levels.
Stress hinders the regular communication that runs from the brain to the gastrointestinal (GI) system, making symptoms of GI more apparent. It affects the GI system, including the stomach, esophagus (food pipe), and bowel. The GI symptoms caused due to tension that can lead to weight loss are:
- difficulty swallowing
- gas, bloating
- heartburn or reflux
- nausea and vomiting
- abdominal pain
- diarrhea, constipation
- increased or decreased appetite
- muscle spasms
- Changes in the HPA axis
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal or HPA axis controls the response of your system to tension, which affects cortisol levels. When you are under stress, the pituitary gland signals for the release of cortisol by the adrenal glands; this hormone increases the body’s energy fuel by releasing glucose and fatty acids from the liver.
Cortisol is also responsible for regulating the body’s immune response and helps reduce inflammation. Chronic stress impairs the regular functioning of the HPA axis, resulting in alterations in metabolism and eating habits.
Some Tips to Reduce Stress
Stress affects our health and weight at some point. Some individuals may experience it several times a day, while others may notice it only when anxiety interferes with daily tasks. Following are several small steps that you can take to calm down if you are feeling stressed:
- exercise for at least half an hour
- nourish your body with a healthy diet
- get outdoors and enjoy nature
- eliminate any one stressful item on your to-do list
- cultivate social support from a friend or close relative
- ask your family for help
- take a small 10-minute yoga break
- read a book, listen to music
- go to bed an hour earlier
- say no to anything that is adding to your tension
- be kind to yourself
- spend time with a pet, or follow your hobby (writing or painting)
- ditch the caffeine and alcohol
- practice 10 minutes of deep breathing
Stress can cause dangerous effects on health and weight (loss or gain). It can alter bodily processes, including the production of stress hormones and GI symptoms, resulting in changes in appetite and metabolization. It would help if you used some self-help techniques to decrease tension or take help from a doctor.