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Bad Effect of Stress from Head to Toe

03 May 2023 10 mins read

Stress is all about encountering any demand or challenge in the life that leads to emotional or physical tension. Although every person experiences it at different phases of life yet it is really harmful for overall health if it continues for a long time period. Let’s check how it can affect your overall health inside out and how you can deal with it from here.

What’s stress?

Stress is the outcome of physical and emotional reaction to any demand or situation that doesn’t go your way. While in danger, the brain keeps on sending triggers mainly chemicals to the adrenals located at top of kidneys through nerves. Accordingly, it churns out hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that promotes:

  • Sweating
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart rate
  • Breathing
  • Blood sugar
  • Blood pressure
  • Alertness

Acute or short-term stress subsides down naturally and it refers to dealing with any emergency situation or arguing with any person.

Affects of stress on Body infographics

What are the effects of chronic stress on the body?

You may have chronic stress in case it is persistent for about a couple of weeks or even more. Stress is more likely to stay long when you have financial constraint and other problems at work, in family or in relationship. As a result, the body remains in reactive state and alert which makes you experience physical and psychological symptoms.

Asthma flare-ups

Strong emotions and stress can trigger asthma easily. The person with asthma can find that these emotions worsen down the symptoms badly. Stress affects respiration severely even if the patient doesn’t have asthma. Due to tightening up the muscles the breathing rate spikes up. 

You can reduce stress with mindful breathing. Here are the steps to perform it:

  1. Inhale through nose and exhale through mouth slowly
  2. Breathe in for 7 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and exhale out in 7 seconds
  3. Just focus on breathing style and try to keep the mind blank
  4. Repeat the steps for at least 3 times

Gastrointestinal troubles

While anxious or stressed the secreted hormone will interfere with function of digestive system resulting in several GI (gastrointestinal) issues such as:

  • Stomach cramping
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

Moreover, IBS or irritable bowel syndrome that is accompanied by bouts of diarrhoea, constipation and pain is mainly triggered by stress.

Hair loss

Hair loss is quite prevalent if you are suffering from chronic stress. Any situation which makes you down emotionally will create stress. Hence, you may experience hair fall problems. Once the stress level drops down, the hair won’t shed anymore. The hair will need 6-9 months to regrow completely and retain the original volume.

Remember, anxiety and stress can result in a disorder namely trichotillomania. In this situation, the patients pull out the hair by themselves. Basically, they experience extreme level of stress prior to pull off their hair.

The treatment for this condition includes habit reversal training, cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. They need to figure out the habits and change them through social support and awareness.

Heart problems

Initially, cardiovascular system responds to stress by increasing the heart rate. But consistent stress spikes up the blood pressure because of contraction of blood vessels. Therefore, you are prone to heart attacks, high cholesterol and hypertension.

For example, about 10%-40% people experience work-related stress and 33% of them have severe chronic stress. So, they are at high risk to get any cardiovascular disease easily.

People who have high-stressed job are at 22% more risk to get stroke than the people having low-stressed jobs. Higher stressed jobs are all about psychologically demanding such as time pressure, coordination burden and mental load. Moreover, they experience stress too if there is no control on the work and they are expected to work very hard. 

Several factors and behaviours increase the chance of stroke of heart attack. Even stress can incorporate several unnatural behaviours in the person like:

  • Not enough physical activity
  • Forget to take medications
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Overeating

Chronic stress puts negative effects on mental health that raises the blood pressure level. So, you are at risk of experiencing stroke and heart disease.

In order to keep stress-related heart problems at bay incorporate heart-healthy lifestyle that comprises of:

  • Having less added sugar, saturated fat and salt
  • Drinking lots of plain water not sugary drinks
  • Stop smoking
  • Performing about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week

First of all, you need to control stress by figuring out its sources and triggers. Also try to find out some solutions for managing it. You can make a good and proper work-life balance and spend plenty of time with closed ones, friends and family. Remember, there is no alternative to meditation and mindful breathing and their benefits. So, don’t ever try to skip them.


Stress gives migraine or tension headache which is followed by a let-down period. While tension headache is quite usual as it feels like squeezing band in the head. It can take place in neck, scalp and head. Stress makes the muscles tense, which is why you can have worse headache.

Although it is possible to seek relief from headache using simple medication yet you must find out the ways to manage the stress. You can do so by modifying the lifestyle and diet. Even try out the following stress-management and relaxation technique for better result:

  • Mindful meditation
  • Massage
  • Hot or ice packs
  • Cognitive behavioural feedback
  • Biofeedback
  • Acupuncture

Exercise is the outstanding way for dealing with stress too. You can easily deal with anxiety, self-esteem and relaxation with it. Try out recreational sports such as volleyball or basketball along with yoga, weight training and cardio.

High blood sugar

Stress can increase blood sugar and when you develop type 2 diabetes then blood sugar will be higher than ever under stress. It causes an elevation in level of glucose and cortisol with insulin resistance. If you have high level of stress then it is necessary to bring lifestyle modifications like dietary change, exercise and diabetes treatment.

Increased appetite

In case you have very short-term stress then it may because of low appetite. When you have stress for long period of time the body secretes cortisol, the appetite-increasing hormone. As a result, you start having foods rich in fat and sugar which in turn make you to gain some extra kilos. 

Additionally, high stress can make the person to connect with food for positive emotions. Hence they start eating more than when they are not stressed. Even they make unhealthy choices at that time referring to emotional or stress eating.

So, it is vital to know the triggers and get ready when it will hit you. So, stock up balanced snacks which are good source of healthy fats and protein. Don’t snack with sugary and saturated fatty foods. Moreover, exercise regularly for controlling stress and improving the overall health.


You can become hyperarousal from excessive stress- it’s a biological state where you won’t feel sleepy easily. Gradually, you will develop insomnia- the sleeping disorder in which the individual experiences consistent issue to stay and fall asleep.

Although major stressful circumstances causing insomnia are over then long-term stress exposure will continue to disrupt the sleep and contribute sleeping disorders. 

Therefore, it is your responsibility to take good, proper and healthy sleep and make a good hygiene. You can do it easily by:

  • Regulating the bedroom temperature
  • Maintaining the time to go to bed and wake up daily
  • Keeping the distractions away- TV, bright lights and noises
  • Refraining from caffeine mostly later in day
  • Abstaining from beverages, large meals and alcohols before bed

Adapt stress-busting activities and yoga or cognitive-behavioural therapy in the day for relieving the stress and anxiety to deal with insomnia and sleep deprivation.

Memory and learning issues

Still the connection between stress and memory is not clear completely but according to researchers believe that stress impacts both memory and learning mainly in classroom setting.

Stress is quite common in educational setting for both teachers and students because of deadlines, evaluations and exams. In respect to education, stress affects memory and learning. But it is still not known if it is a negative or positive affect. While in some instances it boosts memory; whereas in some it affects it badly. 

However, you cannot come to know how long the impacts of stress will last on memory and learning or when the memory impairs. Moreover, if the impairment depends on intensity and types of stressors are not known at all.

But enough research is not there to recommend the teachers and students to limit the stress in lives. But you can seek relief from stress by regular exercising, taking proper sleep, doing meditation and avoiding caffeine.

Job performance issues

Life puts you in many stressful situations and work is one of them where you need to tackle the stress. And the stress at work overheads any other stresses you have in the life. 

Because of additional stress, the productivity of the employees’ drops down and there is less satisfaction and motivation too. As one size doesn’t fit all- there isn’t a universal solution for this issue. Every industry, organization and business must have their unique stress management strategy for the mental health of the employees.

The final aim is to alleviate the stress at work completely. Stress-management training can be a solution as it addresses stressors based on company such as weak communication channel and focuses on stress busters for each employee. 

Pregnancy complications

If you are planning for a baby or pregnant then anxiety and stress can affect the period throughout badly. In case, you don’t manage it properly then it is more likely to happen:

  • Postpartum depression
  • Preterm labour
  • Low birth weight

So, the parents-to-be are strongly advised to alleviate the stress level for the sake of the baby and parents. You can easily adopt the following stress management techniques:

  • Therapy
  • Prenatal yoga
  • Meditation
  • Eating healthy

If nothing helps then talk to the doctor about your stress during pregnancy.

Premature aging

Chronic stress and traumatic events will contribute to premature aging as stress shortens down telomeres in cells. These are actually protective caps located at end of cell chromosomes. With short telomeres, people tend to age faster than usual.

Alleviates sex drive

Remember, your mind’s condition will affect the sexual desire. Hence, we can say that stress reduces sex drive. Higher level of stress comes with low sexual arousal. Both hormonal and psychological factors have a contribution in the patients with chronic stress.

Sexual dysfunction can cause other conditions too like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, consult with a doctor as early as possible to manage and reduce your stress.  

Skin problems

Stress worsens down skin disorders and problems mainly acne. Although it cannot lead to acne yet it can worsen it and associated symptoms down. Moreover, with intensification of stress, acne’s severity increases to a great extent. Stress worsens down psoriasis too! Most doctors make use of stress-management techniques like meditation and biofeedback to treat the psoriasis in patients.

Tips to manage the stress effectively

Tips to manage the stress effectively

Although stress affects the body and mind in several ways yet there are multiple ways for alleviating and managing the stress. You have to look for the right option for you. Till then, you can follow the given tips to manage the stress in a long haul:

  • Perform regular exercise- Work out for about 150 minutes each week.
  • Engage in relaxing activity- Perform muscle relaxation exercises, yoga and meditation.
  • Take proper sleep throughout the night- Make sure you take 7-8 hours of sleep regularly.
  • Don’t have foods and drinks with caffeine- Have proper and balanced diet without caffeine.
  • Ensure proper time management- Prioritise your tasks as per time and finish it on time.
  • Contact with the family and friends for mental support- If you need help or want to talk with someone then consult with the friends and family for extra support and mental care.


Life is full of stress and most people can experience it at some sorts of life. When you are suffering from chronic stress both body and mind are badly affected. But you won’t experience any symptoms at all as there are several ways for managing the stress perfectly.

Understand the triggers well and look for the ways to control and manage the stress. In case you find it tough, reach out to a doctor for additional support.