How often do you stress eat? How often do you oversleep or turn into an insomniac just because you are too anxious about something? We all have our pangs of anxiety, but if it is a prolonged affair for you, you must make some serious lifestyle change before there are some irrevocable effects on your body.
Yes, you heard it right. Stress and anxiety don’t just consume your mind space but also rot your physical health.
How Stress Affects The Body
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Let’s paint a picture of what you will go through because you are stressed. First of all, you will have a constant headache. Then your stomach will be upset, either constipated or you will have diarrhoea. You may also have some unwanted body-ache and no logical reason behind it. You will either be feeling hungry all the time or wouldn’t want to eat at all. Your breathing will be erratic and you will get fatigued easily.
You get the gist, don’t you? But these are just the daily issues that you will encounter. There are also certain long term damages that stress and anxiety can cause to your body.
Long-term Effects Of Stress And Anxiety
Remember, the reason behind your stress and anxiety might not last long. But the damage it will cause to your body would definitely be long-lasting. We have enlisted some of the major chronicle ailments you can develop due to anxiety.
Now you must be thinking that the possible cause of weight gain would be binging on food. And you don’t do that while you are stressed. So you are safe. No, you can’t be more incorrect. The actual cause behind the weight gain is Cortisol.
This is how it works. You are facing stress or anxiety, your body will react, right? And so it does. It releases hormones, namely adrenaline and cortisol. Now if you stress out once in a blue moon, then these hormones are your greatest ally. But they become foes for people with chronicle stress and anxiety. Excessive exposure to cortisol results directly in weight gain.
If you are already suffering from heart disease, stress will aggravate it. Anxiety increases the risk of a coronary event. And if you are not suffering from a heart ailment, then stress and anxiety will give you one.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Well, doesn’t the name say it all? Remember when you had an upset stomach? Remember how irritated and uncomfortable you were? Now imagine having that everyday, all the time. Well, that’s IBS for you.
And you know what is worse? Once, you get this disease, unlike other digestive disorders, this will be triggered by stress and anxiety. Your mind becomes more aware of the spasms in colon when you are stressed and anxious. Moreover, stress and anxiety affects your immune system which in turn instigates IBS. So, the point is, it’s all related.
Aggravated Respiratory Disorder Symptoms
Now, you may breathe a sigh of relief that stress can’t lead to a respiratory disorder. Hurray! But what if you already have one? Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may have to be hospitalised due to the breathlessness caused due to anxiety.
Even asthma symptoms get triggered due to stress and anxiety.
Weak Immune System
Remember those hormones released by the body under stress- adrenaline and cortisol? These hormones are released when your body feels it’s in a fight-or-flight situation. But if you are stressed all the time, when will the body turn off this mode?
With occasional stress, the body turns off this mode when the stress pressure is not. But if you are stress recurrs frequently or is long lasting, it will not.
Your body will just not turn off the mode and over time your immune system will grow weak. As a result, you will become prone to viral infections and will fall ill more often.
Ways To Manage Stress And Anxiety
Dealing with stress is not easy. And once it becomes chronic, managing it sure becomes difficult. But here are simple ways that might work.
Rationalise Your thinking
Now this is the most difficult way of relieving stress. It is much easier said and too difficult to do. But if you get this one right, you can manage stress in the best way possible.
You cannot condition yourself to never ever get stressed. That’s illogical. But you can choose which situations are worth stress about. See, none of the effects listed above will occur if you stress out once in a blue moon. It’s but natural. We have to avoid prolonged exposure to stress.
Now one tried and tested filter to select situations you should can avoid stressing over is just a simple question. Ask yourself- “Will I be stressing about this 6 months from now? Will this really affect me after a while?”
If not, just work on finding a solution to the issue not stressing about it. Rationalise your thinking and don’t hyperventilate.
This is obvious, isn’t it? Meditation relax your mind and muscles. You think clearly and focus on your breathing. At the same time, meditation in the long term regulates your response to unfavorable conditions.
You may just not get stressed out easily and isn’t that the whole point anyway?
You can make this a new year resolution like many of these new year resolutions for your mental health
Have A De-stress Meal
Now before you think this is your license to binge, stop. A de-stress meal is different from you binging on unlimited pizza, chocolates or even alcohol. Rather, a de-stress meal may comprise of herbal tea, even simple tea would do if that calms you down.
You may want to add honey instead of sugar to that. Honey has anti-inflammatory effects which relieve stress and anxiety. Following that, have some nice sweet fruit or even chocolate, preferably dark. But in small portions. Dark chocolate helps reduce the level of cortisol in your body.
Now exercising keeps you healthy and so you should exercise regularly. But if that’s not convincing enough, it takes away your stress too. How? First of all, exercising burns up all the energy you have pent up due to stress and anxiety.
And secondly, it releases endorphins- the happy hormones. When released, these hormones make you feel a lot calmer and improve your mood.
You may not believe it but a change of space can bring about a change of mind. Just head for a camping trip, or a trek or a jamming season. You can join us on Fitato Exclusive events too. Once you are not in the same place where the cause of your stress it, your stress will not be there too. Overthinking and dwelling on it won’t change much, moving on might.
For more information on all the different gyms and fitness activities (CrossFit, Yoga, Zumba, etc), you can try out in your city, check out Fitato. Fitato is your single membership to various gyms & fitness studios in your city. So what are you waiting for? Download the app now.