Here's How Stress Affects Your Physical Health

You may not even realize the impact your stressful schedule is having on your physical health. But those headaches, your achy back, and moodiness may all have one cause: stress.

Stress can be positive and help you grow. The stress you feel before a major exam or office presentation can help you do your very best. But stress can be chronic or triggering — and this type of stress tears you down.

Stress is a natural response. You’re programmed to feel stress when faced with danger. The physical responses, such as increased blood pressure, a surge of hormones, and elevated heart rate, are designed to help you fight or take flight.

You’re not being chased by a bear on a daily basis, but your body reacts to stress in a save-your-life manner. Even when stress is the more benign type, such as late bills, a demanding boss, and scheduling family logistics, your body goes into survival mode.

Many people have stress hormones and reactions pumping through their systems almost 24 hours each day. These day-to-day chronic stressors can set you up for ill health effects. At My Fit Body 360, we can help you control stress so you don’t experience the following nasty consequences.

Weight gain

A major effect of stress is unwanted weight gain. Stress makes it so you just don’t plan well for meals and grab fast food or processed meals for convenience. You may not have time to get the necessary exercise to help you keep your weight in check.

Stress can also trigger weight-gain behaviors. You seek out high-calorie comfort food or calorie-laden alcohol to soothe your soul. There’s a biological reason for this, too — your body needs carbohydrates (sugar) to give you the energy to flee your stress. Your body just doesn’t know you can’t run away from your mother-in-law visiting. So you still spend your evenings buried in a vat of ice cream or a bag of chips.

The hormones’ stress triggers also interfere with weight loss. Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps your body restore itself to homeostasis following stress. It lasts a long time in the system and is designed, in part, to help you replenish lost nutrients from fighting your way out of a stressful situation. The problem with today’s stress is that it doesn’t usually use up a lot of calories — but your system still responds by storing fat and piling on the weight.

The team at My Fit Body 360 can help you learn how to better deal with stress and maintain healthy diet and exercise habits even when it seems like you have zero time.

Increased pain

Stress can lead to unexpected pain that you may unknowingly attribute to an illness or unlucky circumstances. Headaches, including migraines, back pain, and chest pain can result from stress. You may hold excess tension in your muscles because of stress, causing tightness and trigger point pain in areas such as your neck and shoulders.

Physical fatigue

Stress can cause sleep disturbances. You may have trouble getting to sleep, and when you do, you wake up tossing and turning throughout the night. You never feel rested.

Stress can also be accompanied by an overwhelming sense of fatigue. This leads to an ugly cycle in which you know you should exercise and eat right to lose weight, but you’re just too tired and can’t get motivated. The more tired you become, the more you crave high-calorie foods to give you energy and help you feel better.

Other physical effects of stress include sexual dysfunction, serious digestive upset, and alcohol and tobacco abuse, which come with their own set of side effects. Over time, chronic stress can lead to the development of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

Don’t let stress stand in the way of your weight-loss success and overall well-being. Call My Fit Body 360 or schedule an appointment online to learn healthy stress responses and how to take control of your life. You’ll experience a better sense of health and lose stubborn pounds.

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