How Does Stress Affect Your Body?

How Does Stress Affect Your Body?

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If you’re feeling stressed, join the party. The reasons behind that stressed-out feeling differ for each person. Some talk about it, others don’t.

But there’s one thing people have in common: When you’re stressed, you’ll feel it in your body. That’s because your mental and physical response to stress go hand in hand.

Signs of Stress in Your Body

Knowing the common signs of stress can help you handle them. That’s important because stress can lead to health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and depression.

Head and Mood: Stress alters memory and many other brain functions, like mood and anxiety. That’s why you may get a headache or feel forgetful and disorganized.

Heart: Stress may lead to chest pain or a fast heartbeat. It can cause high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It may also put you at higher risk for heart disease.

Stomach and Digestion: Stress touches the brain-gut link. It may set off pain, bloating and other gut issues. Stress can change digestion and affect what nutrients your body absorbs when you eat. It can also make you eat too much or too little.

Back: Anxiety and stress can lead to muscle tension and cause back, shoulder and neck pain. You may hunch your shoulders, causing pain through your upper and middle back. Many people exercise less when stressed, too. Sitting for hours can strain the spine and low-back muscles.

Whole Body: Physical warnings of stress include aches and pains, insomnia, frequent colds and infections. You may even experience nervousness and shaking, dry mouth, clenched jaw, and teeth grinding.

Next Steps

Make it a priority to handle your stress. Be sure to get regular exercise. Try to relax with deep breathing, yoga or meditation. Set aside time for yourself when you can enjoy your hobbies, read or listen to music.

You can talk to your doctor about stress and your mental health. If you don’t speak up, you’re missing a chance to get better. Getting healthier and stronger mentally will help you in many ways, including supporting your physical health.

Young People Are Stressed Out

More than 90 percent of Generation Z is stressed out, according to the American Psychological Society’s 2018 Stress in America Generation Z   report.

Many of Gen Z (age 24 and under) say they have felt at least one physical or emotional sign because of stress. That includes feeling depressed or sad, or lacking interest, drive or energy. Only half feel like they do enough to handle their stress.

But a 2018 poll  by the American Psychiatric Association showed millennials (about age 24-39) are the most anxious generation. The results showed that being worried over paying bills caused them the most stress.

The same poll also found women were more anxious than men and that there is greater anxiety for people of all ages in general than in the past.

Sources: What is the WHO Definition of Health WHO; Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior Mayo Clinic, 2019; Protect your brain from stress Harvard Medical School, 2018; Stress and Heart Health  American Heart Association, 2014; Stress Effects on the Body,   Gen Z more likely to report mental health concerns American Psychological Association; Easy tips to relieve stress-related neck and back pain UT Southwestern Medical Center, 2019; Stress Symptoms WedMD, 2019; More Than 90% of Generation Z Is Stressed Out. And Gun Violence Is Partly To Blame Time, 2018; Stress in America: Generation Z American Psychological Association, 2018; Millennials are the Most Anxious Generation, New Research Shows Newsweek, 2018; APA Public Opinion Poll  American Psychiatric Association, 2018
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