No matter how hard you try to avoid it, stress has become a part of our lives.
For some, it might be due to work pressures while for others it could be personal relationships. These days, for many people, a lack of finances is a major cause of stress.
The severity thereof varies from one person to another. The same goes for how you cope with it. Some people are able to manage stress better than others.
While it’s normal to stress sometimes, it’s abnormal and unhealthy to be stressed all the time.
Prolonged and chronic stress can have long-lasting physical and mental side effects.
Here’s a look at some of the common consequences of stress on our bodies and minds.
PHYSICAL SIDE EFFECTS
Stress triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can elevate blood pressure and heart rate. Over time, this can lead to an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
Weakened immune system
Chronic stress weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses and resulting in slower recovery times.
Stress can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system, leading to issues such as stomach pains, nausea, diarrhoea, or constipation.
Stress can interfere with the quality and duration of sleep. Insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, or waking up frequently during the night are common sleep disturbances associated with stress.
Muscle tension and pain
Stress often manifests in physical symptoms like muscle tension, headaches, and body aches. Prolonged muscle tension can contribute to chronic pain conditions such as tension headaches, migraines, and backaches.
MENTAL SIDE EFFECTS
Anxiety and depression
Chronic stress can trigger and exacerbate anxiety disorders and depression. Persistent feelings of worry, fear, or sadness can significantly impact one's mental well-being, leading to a reduced quality of life and impaired daily functioning.
Stress impairs cognitive function, affecting memory, concentration, and decision-making abilities. It becomes harder to focus, retain information, and process complex tasks effectively.
Mood swings and irritability
It can cause irritability, mood swings, and a reduced tolerance for frustration. Individuals may become easily agitated, short-tempered, or experience emotional outbursts.
Stress can dampen sexual desire and disrupt sexual functioning. It affects hormone levels, decreases energy levels, and contributes to relationship problems, further impacting one's mental well-being.
Some individuals turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, or drug use to alleviate stress. These behaviours can lead to addiction.