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6 effects stress has on your body

All of us will stress face at some point in our life. Whether it’s an impending deadline at work, the pressure that comes from managing your own business, renovating a home, or running a household, we all face stressful situations. Stress in and of itself isn’t problematic – it’s our natural response to cope with situations that may put us in danger.

It’s when we find ourselves in a constant state of stress that we run into trouble. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the body, affecting everything from our mental health to our ability to properly digest food. Here are just some of the ways that stress affects our health:


Ever heard someone say that they have butterflies in their stomach, or that they’ve had a gut-wrenching experience? The connection between stomach cramps or tension and feeling stressed isn’t random.

Stress can directly affect digestion in a number of different ways. When we’re in a state of stress, our body sends blood away from our digestive organs and towards our limbs, so that we’re ready to run or fight our way from danger.

The brain and the gastrointestinal (or GI) system are connected, and they regularly interact by sending signals to one another. An anxious or stressed brain can cause symptoms in the gut, so learning to effectively manage stress might help to relieve digestive discomfort or pain.


When we feel stressed, our bodies respond by tensing up our muscles and then relaxing them as we are removed from the stressful situation. When we experience chronic stress, these tensed muscles never get a chance to properly relax. This creates tension in not only the muscles themselves but also in other areas of the body that are connected.

For example, people often tense their shoulders when they are stressed, which over time affects the neck and head, leading to tension headaches and migraines. Stress can also manifest in pain in the lower back, a symptom that’s often experienced by office workers.

Relaxation techniques and stress management can help to ease tension throughout the body, allowing for a greater sense of wellbeing.

Problems with sleep

Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, can be caused by many things – one of which is stress. If you’ve experienced a particularly stressful period in your life and find yourself unable to sleep, there may well be a connection between the two.

When we experience high levels of stress, it can be difficult to ‘wind down’ in the evenings before bed. Rather than feeling tired, we find ourselves in a hyper-aroused state where our minds are racing, making it extremely difficult to reach a state of relaxation that’s necessary for sleep.

Sleep directly affects our cognition, or our ability to think clearly. This means that getting enough sleep is an important part of managing stress and making decisions that benefit our health and wellbeing. Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep places stress on our heart and cardiovascular system.

Reproductive health

Chronic stress can affect the reproductive health of both men and women. For women, elevated stress levels can have an effect on the menstrual cycle, resulting in an irregular or absent menstrual cycle as well as painful or uncomfortable periods. Stress can also worsen the symptoms of women experiencing menopause.

Stress can also affect the fertility of both men and women, lowering the libido and the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Whether you’re trying to conceive or not, managing stress levels can improve reproductive health and restore the production of sex hormones.


In short doses, stress can actually have a positive effect on the immune system, kicking our bodies into gear and preparing them to fight off infection. When we’re chronically stressed, the communication between our brains and bodies doesn’t work as well, and the immune system may actually weaken.

Other symptoms of chronic stress, for example, poor digestion or sleep, can contribute to our bodies ability to effectively fight off disease or infection. Keeping stress at bay gives our bodies a greater chance of working effectively, helping to boost our immune system.

Mental health

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Stress can have a huge effect on our mental wellbeing, leading to a feeling of being unable to cope with life’s pressures or manifesting in conditions like anxiety or depression.

Stress can come from many different sources and impacts everyone differently. It can affect our emotions, our behaviour, and our desire to participate in healthy activities like exercise or socialising with others.

In the same way, everyone manages stress differently, so it’s important to find a strategy that works for you and your lifestyle. If you’re experiencing stress that’s affecting your health, speak to your GP about finding a solution that works for you.

You may also be interested in the following:

Effects of Diet & Lifestyle on Blood Pressure
Flu Vaccinations 2018
How to get a good nights sleep
5 healthy recipes for the whole family


Acknowledgement of Country

Capital Chemist acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.