Understanding the Physical Effects of Stress

We’ve all been living through what are undeniably stressful times lately. But sometimes, feelings of extreme stress go beyond spending a few minutes worrying about what’s in the headlines. For many, prolonged stress or extremely high levels of stress can lead to anxiety and depression, and even have an impact on our physical health.

Common Signs of Stress

Heightened or prolonged stress has a real impact on your body. People undergoing extreme stress will often experience frequent headaches, many of which result from unknowingly clenching the jaw (including during sleep). Stress can disrupt your sleep patterns and appetite. 

Prolonged stress also weakens the body’s immune system by raising its cortisol levels. This makes you more likely to contract colds and other illnesses. Such physical complications can ultimately cause anxiety and other mental health conditions to become harder to manage.

Ways to Prevent Stress

Each person is unique — and so are our stress triggers. Understanding which situations provoke stress will help you better avoid these triggers. For example, some people might need to take a break from social media or watching the nightly news to not feel so stressed out.

Other generally healthy habits can help your body better respond to stress. Getting a full night’s rest, exercising daily, and eating a healthy diet can lower your body’s stress levels so you can respond better to stressful situations. Building a strong support system (and even enlisting the help of mental health professionals, if needed) will further help you improve your well-being.

Don’t let stress take over your life and harm your physical and mental health. At OneEighty, we offer comprehensive mental health services to help you cope with stress, as well as related challenges like domestic violence and substance abuse. Contact us at 330.264.8498.