When you think about stressful situations, it is common to focus on the mental aspects — how your brain is affected. We know that stress can make your heart race and can cause an upset stomach, but it can also affect your body in lots of other ways too.
Stress can leave you feeling exhausted
A frantic brain is probably going to keep you awake at night as it constantly turns over the same thoughts. All that overthinking can make it hard to get a restful sleep. That also means you might feel more inclined to skip your workout, especially if you have a lot on. But this is a time when your workouts can be really beneficial! Exercise can help relieve stress and help you to feel more energised.
Stress can lead to weight gain
Binge-eating and comfort eating can be triggered by stress, so if you are an emotional eater, this may be a problem. When you’re tired, you are also likely to make poorer food choices, often relying on a quick pick-me-up because you’re tired and/or want something convenient.
Add into that equation the fact that cortisol (the stress hormone) can lead to a decreased metabolism and you have a recipe for weight gain.
Stress wreaks havoc on your skin and hair
If you’ve ever had a breakout right before a big presentation or event, you probably already know this! Thanks to an increase in androgens (a hormone found in both men and women), you may be more prone to acne and you may shed more hair than usual when you’re feeling stressed.
Stress can also weaken your immune system, causing other skin conditions that you’re prone to (such as rosacea, eczema or psoriasis) to flare up. Unfortunately, a weakened immune system may also mean it takes longer for spots to clear up. I know it can be hard, but try to be mindful of your diet.
Stress can leave you feeling stiff and sore
You might not have realised that stress can affect your muscles and cause you to feel stiff. This happens because both your blood pressure and heart rate increase, which can make your muscles tighten up. While this is helpful if you need to quickly move out of harm’s way, it can leave you in pain if your body is tense for a long period of time. A massage or a good stretch can help to relieve muscle tension!
While stress is a common part of our lives, it’s important to know that long-term stress can lead to physical side effects like these. I’m a big believer in the benefits of exercise for reducing stress and practising self-care can help you to focus on what your body and mind need. Sometimes you just need a break, sometimes you may need to look at what is causing stress in your life and see what you can do to reduce it.
Take care of yourselves.