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8 Facts About the Impact of Stress
Stress: it is one of the sources of anxiety in people’s lives, and it can stem from multiple sources including relationships, work, school, grieving, and obligations.
Those who are stressed for a long period of time may have chronic stress, which is stress that recurs. However, consistently being stressed out each day can impact your overall physical and mental health.
Here are 8 facts about stress to help you learn more about the different ways it can impact your body.
Americans Are More Stressed Out Than Ever
According to the American Institute of Stress 2022 survey, the global average of stressed people throughout 143 countries is 35%. What’s more is that it estimates the average American stress levels are 20% higher than the global average.1
According to their analysis, Americans are stressed out by several different aspects of life, including healthcare, our nation’s uncertainty, supply chain issues, and price hikes. Americans are more stressed than ever after the pandemic, with nearly 2 in 3 adults reporting that their stress levels have increased.1
With all of these changes occurring on a local and national scale, Americans feel as though they are losing a sense of control which can cause them to become stressed. Stress can start impacting daily lives, from sleep patterns to overall mental health.
Stress Can Lead to Other Health Conditions
When stress becomes chronic, it can influence how your body feels and acts. This can potentially lead to other chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
Some effects that stress has on the body, both physically and mentally, include:2
- Influencing eat patterns
- Chest pain
- Anger outbursts
- Lack of motivation
These changes can have long-term consequences if stress is left untreated. It’s important that if you experience stress for a prolonged period of time that you talk to a doctor about the side effects.
Drinking to Relieve Stress is a Dangerous Habit
Some people will turn to alcohol to relieve their stress because they believe that alcohol can help them unwind mentally. However, getting into a habit of drinking to relieve stress can put you at risk for substance abuse.
When the body becomes stressed, it will change your hormonal levels and activate the flight or fight stage. This prepares the body to react, however, adding alcohol on top of the hormonal changes can prevent the body’s stress levels from naturally decreasing with time.3
The hormone cortisol, which plays a role in memory and learning, is increased during stress and can cause someone to fall into a habit of drinking. Changing cortisol levels impacts the way the body perceives responding to stress as “normal,” which in the long run can lead to dependence on alcohol, metabolic disorders, and psychiatric disorders.4
Stress is Linked to Insomnia
Have trouble sleeping at night? It might be due to stress. It is estimated by the Sleep Foundation that 10-30% of adults currently live with insomnia, and those who suffer from anxiety disorders are more prone to experience insomnia symptoms.5
Some reasons people stay up late at night is due to stress from work, school, relationships, obligations, financial problems, and grieving. This stress can impact the body’s hormone levels and leave you in the flight or fight stage, which can make it take longer for you to calm down and sleep.
It’s important to learn how to manage stress in order to get a good night’s sleep. Some ways to reduce your levels of distractions include making the sleep environment comfortable, adhering to a sleep schedule, and relaxing in the evening before bed with activities such as reading or listening to soothing music.
Stress Makes You More likely To Get Sick
When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to get colds, flus, and other viruses that make you sick. Stress decreases the body’s levels of white blood cells which help fight off infections.6
Stress can also impact the digestive system because when someone is stressed, digestion will become inhibited. After the stress is over, digestion will resume normally, but over time this can affect your body’s digestive health. This cycle can cause ulcers and strain the body’s overall digestive health, which can compromise your body’s ability to manage digestive disorders.7
Stress Can Lead to Type-2 Diabetes
There is evidence that stress is linked to type-2 diabetes. While stress alone cannot cause a case of type-2 diabetes, it may be a contributing factor because it prohibits the insulin cells in the pancreas from functioning properly.8
Additionally, many people overeat as a way to cope with the stress in their life. This could contribute to type 2 diabetes, as obesity can put you more at risk. A man with a waist above 40 inches and a woman with a waist above 35 inches are significantly more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.9
Stress Affects Breathing
People who are stressed are more likely to experience shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Stress can constrict the airway to the lungs, which can affect the amount of air that goes through the air passages.
Acute stress can put someone at risk for asthma attacks, which occur when the airways become inflamed and someone has trouble breathing. Stress can also induce panic attacks because hyperventilation, which is rapid breathing, can increase the likelihood of one happening – especially if the individual is prone to panic attacks.10
Your Genes Can Influence How You Handle Stress
Genetics can play a role in how your body responds to stress, and some people are more prone to chronic stress while others may not have much stress at all.11
However, it’s important to note that environmental factors play a major role in stress and stress management. Influences such as current relationships, financial status, and past trauma can all play a role in how the body triggers and responds to stress.
Learn How to Manage Stress
Constantly stressed out each day? You need to start finding ways to manage your stress and improve your overall mental health. Some ways you can reduce stress include:
- Making time for hobbies
- Understanding the source of your stress
- Listening to soothing music
- Practicing meditation and relaxation techniques
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- Talking to someone about stress
- Creating a realistic plan of obligations for each day
- Finding time to relax
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Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “What is Stress?” The American Institute of Stress. Accessed 30 March 2022. Link: https://www.stress.org/daily-life
- “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 24 March 2021. Accessed 30 March 2022. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987#:~:text=Common%20effects%20of%20stress&text=Stress%20that's%20left%20unchecked%20can,heart%20disease%2C%20obesity%20and%20diabetes.
- “The Link Between Stress and Alcohol.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Accessed 30 March 2022. Link: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA85/AA85.htm
- T, Buddy. Block, Daniel B. “The Link Between Stress and Alcohol.” Very Well Mind. 25 June 2021. Accessed 30 March 2022. Link: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-link-between-stress-and-alcohol-67239
- Fry, Alexa. Dimitriu, Alex. “Stress and Insomnia.” Sleep Foundation. 11 March 2022. Accessed 30 March 2022. Link: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/stress-and-insomnia
- “What Happens When Your Immune System Gets Stressed Out?” Cleveland Clinic. 1 March 2017. Accessed 30 March 2022. Link: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-when-your-immune-system-gets-stressed-out/
- McLeod, Dr. Saul. “Stress, Illness and the Immune System.” SimplyPsychology. Last updated 2010. Accessed 30 March 2022. Link: https://www.simplypsychology.org/stress-immune.html
- “Stress and diabetes.” The British Diabetic Association. Accessed 30 March 2022. Link: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/emotions/stress#:~:text=Stress%20alone%20doesn't%20cause,amount%20of%20insulin%20they%20make.
- “Type 2 Diabetes.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 20 January 2021. Accessed 31 March 2022. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193
- “Stress effects on the body.” American Psychological Association. 1 November 2019. Accessed 31 March 2022. Link: https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body
- Fuller, Kristen. “Are Stress and Anxiety Genetic?” Sussex Publishers, Psychology Today. 10 August 2020. Accessed 31 August 2022. Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/202008/are-stress-and-anxiety-genetic#:~:text=Studies%20have%20shown%20that%20certain,development%20of%20stress%20and%20anxiety.