Stress hurts. Literally. Too much of it can damage you from the inside out, leading to increased risk of disease, premature aging, and more. You might not even realize your minor ailments are sabotaging your health until it’s too late.
Here’s how you’re destroying your body by stressing out too much.
You’ll probably get sick more often
Your body can’t tell the difference between life-threatening stressors and everyday anxiety. No matter what’s stressing you out, it’s triggering the release of a hormone called cortisol, which signals to the rest of your body it’s time to slow down.
While your heart rate and breathing might increase during stress, operations like your digestive and immune systems cease functioning at full capacity. You’re more likely to get sick without a fully functional immune system.
You’ll change the bacteria in your gut
The ecosystem of bacteria in your gut influences your health more than you think. In some cases, chronic stress can actually change this bacteria, which can cause a number of health problems as a result.
Have you ever felt nauseous in response to anxiety? Your digestive system and your brain share an important connection. Psychological stress can cause stomach pain, indigestion, and more. It can also trick you into eating more unhealthy food, which also isn’t good for your physical health.
You could ruin your teeth
Sometimes, the tension that accompanies chronic stress affects your health even while you’re sleeping. It’s common for people to grind their teeth while asleep, and you’re more likely to suffer the consequences if you’re under a lot of stress.
Frequent and long-term grinding can ruin your teeth and hurt your jaw. If you’ve already done damage to your mouth due to stress, a dentist can help you prevent further injury.
You’ll probably lose your appetite
Serotonin plays a major role in regulating your mood. It’s also partially responsible for how hungry (or full) you might feel. Imbalances in this hormone, which can cause feelings of stress and anxiety, can also affect your appetite. You might eat less as a result, sometimes without even realizing it.
Some people, instead of losing their appetite, find they can’t control it. This is why stress is often associated with weight gain. It can lead to overeating as well as hormone changes that
You might stop sleeping normally
If you’ve ever spent what would have been a good night’s sleep staring up at the ceiling, you know how devastating stress-induced insomnia can be. One bad night’s sleep messes with your hormones, makes you exhausted, and even makes it harder to sleep again the following night.
Sleep loss can become a vicious cycle, since the less sleep you get, the more stress hormones your body releases.
You could develop hives
Some people develop hives as part of an allergic reaction to medications or exposure to heat or cold. You might also develop hives as an indirect result of stress.
Does this mean you’re allergic to stress? Not exactly. Stress, and the hormonal and chemical changes that come along with it, causes your blood vessels to expand and leak, which results in the development of red, swollen patches on your skin that might burn or itch.
You might destroy your blood pressure
Do you eat more when you’re stressed? Maybe you turn to a host of other risky behaviors to cope. Many of these things, combined with the stress itself, can lead to long-term high blood pressure, which could put your life at risk.
High blood pressure increases your chances of developing other devastating chronic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
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