How Stress Can Affect Your Body
Overall Well Being.

Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but what is stress? How does it affect your overall health? And what can you do to manage your stress?

Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Any type of challenge—such as performance at work or school, a significant life change, or a traumatic event—can be stressful.

Stress Is Your "Fight or Flight" Response
Stress affects your whole body. Your breathing and heart rate quicken, your blood pressure rises, and other body systems kick into high gear. This is your body’s natural reaction to danger—the “fight or flight” response. A little stress every now and then is not cause for concern, but chronic stress is linked to a number of health problems.


Everyone experiences stress from time to time. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical and mental health risks. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively and recover from stressful events more quickly than others.

Examples of stress include:

  • Routine stress related to the pressures of school, work, family, and other daily responsibilities.
  • Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness.
  • Traumatic stress experienced during an event such as a major accident, war, assault, or natural disaster where people may be in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. People who experience traumatic stress may have very distressing temporary emotional and physical symptoms, but most recover naturally soon after.

Stress Affects Mental Health
Anxiety is the main byproduct of stress and, not surprisingly, anxiety is the most common mood disorder. Although genetics and your life experiences play a role in your mental health, chronic stress can also increase your risk of developing a mental health problem. One theory suggests the hormones released during stress disrupt serotonin levels, a brain chemical that affects mood. Over time, a change in serotonin levels may lead to anxiety or depression, among other mental disorders.  


Stress Affects the Digestive System
Nearly everyone feels sick to their stomach at one time or another when facing a stressful situation. But chronic stress can wreak havoc on the digestive system. It’s known to cause heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, cramping and bloating. Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition in which the large intestine is irritated, is strongly related to stress.  


Stress Weakens the Immune System
Your immune system is a collection of cells that protect the body against harmful bacteria, viruses and cancer. Research shows that people who are under chronic stress have fewer white blood cells—the infection-fighting cells—and are more vulnerable to colds and other illnesses. Once you are sick, stress can make your symptoms worse.



Some people are more prone to certain diseases, and chronic stress can give these conditions the green light.

Stress has been linked to illnesses that include cancer, lung disease, fatal accidents, suicide, and cirrhosis of the liver.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that children exposed to chronic stress are more likely to develop a mental illness if they are genetically predisposed.


Take Control Over Stress
In small doses, stress is good because it motivates you to get things done or flee a dangerous situation. But ongoing stress can wear you down and make you sick. One of the most effective things you can do is exercise because it helps your body deal with stress. This doesn’t have to be a major overhaul of your life. Take a short, brisk walk first thing in the morning or some other time of day. Always have healthy snacks on hand, including your car. If you are looking for more ways to manage your stress or just a supportive community of women join our Facebook Community where we safely share our daily challenges, learn from a supportive community and encourage ourselves.