While a little bit of stress is thought to be good for motivation, studies of employees ranging from military personnel to bankers show that stress reduces productivity and satisfaction at work. Not only does psychological stress affect our feelings and behavior, it can also affect our bodies and impact our well-being. For example, some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger and irritability.
Here are 5 ways that stress can affect the body and ways to counter them:
Studies have shown that when a person is stressed, the body will release a hormone, cortisol, which enhances cravings for sugar and fat. It is believed that this hormone binds to receptors in the brain that control food intake. Moreover, if you already have a high body mass index, you may be even more susceptible to the cravings. The key is to know what triggers you to be stressed so that you will be mindful and ready for any emotional eating attack. That mean, stocking up on healthy snacks so that you will not be tempted by the unhealthy options provided by the vending machine at work.
2. Fat Storage
Stress can be correlated to weight gain. This is because when you are stress, you are more likely to have poor eating habits. Moreover, the stress hormone cortisol may also increase the amount of fat tissue your body hangs onto and enlarge the size of fat cells. Higher levels of cortisol have also been linked to more deep-abdominal fat—yes, belly fat. Fortunately, exercise can help control stress and help keep belly fat under control.
When you are stressed, your blood pressure may temporarily be raised due to the constricting of blood vessels and speeding up of your heart rate. Fortunately, these effects disappear when the stress has passed. However, this can be an issue for people suffering from constant stress over a long period of time as it is straining to the heart. A recent study of 200,000 employees in Europe found that people who have stressful jobs and little decision-making power at work are 23% more likely to have a first heart attack than people with less job-related stress. Having awareness to your condition by monitoring your resting heart rate during stressful times might be one preventive measure to take.
Ever wonder why you just can’t sleep at night even after skipping the 4pm coffee break? Stress might be the culprit. This is because stress can cause hyper arousal, a biological state where you just don’t feel sleepy. Being stressed for a long period of time can disrupt rest that may lead to sleep disorders and lose of focus at work. Try making your room to be more conducive for a good night’s rest) or stress-busting activity like yoga during the day.
Research suggests that students with acne are more prone to outbreaks during exams compared to less stressful time periods because stress may lead to an increase of male hormones, known as androgens that contribute to acne flares by over-stimulating the oil glands and altering the development of skin cells that line hair follicles in the skin. Stress can also trigger skin conditions like psoriasis to appear for the first time or make an existing case more severe. Incorporate stress-management techniques such as meditation might help in the treatment and healing process.
Stress can also affect your ability to think critically, make decisions and solve problems. The effects of stress tend to build up over time, so by taking steps to manage your stress and reduce it, you can minimise or prevent the harmful effects that stress can cause to your body.
Fun fact: Did you know that stress can reduce the ability to cope with physical pain?
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