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It’s not all in your head!

What stress does to your body and why.

Have you ever had so much on your plate that you feel like the smallest of things is going to be the breaking point?

I have, and I’m sure you have too. This is stress. Stress at its basic level is the body's response to a triggering event and can have many different effects on your body and your overall happiness.

Here are 4 quick facts about stress and what it does to your body.

Stress doesn't just affect your mind.

It can also affect you on a cellular level. Long-term stress can even cause physical illnesses like headaches, acid reflux, and even heart disease. Long-term stress has also even been linked to cancer, cirrhosis, and lung disease. The bottom line is that stress can greatly affect your quality of life.

Stress can also be harmful to your mouth. Some people respond by grinding their teeth or chewing at the inside of their cheeks or the side of their tongue. Teeth grinding can lead to weak teeth or jaw damage. Chewing on your tongue or cheeks can also lead to sores in your mouth that could become infected.

Long-term stress can lead to weight gain.

This is due to the body slowing down digestion in response to stress hormones. This is so that your body can focus more energy to fend off a potential threat. This can also cause stomach discomfort or pain.

Some people also struggle with stress eating. This is a result of the hormone cortisol that your body releases when it is stressed. An increased level of cortisol can cause your insulin (a fat-storage hormone) levels to increase, making you crave unhealthy sugar-filled foods resulting in weight gain. Paired with an immune system that has been slowed due to stress is the perfect storm to cause you to pack on the pounds.

Your brain is hardwired to make your body respond to stress.

When the nervous system senses a stressor it produces stress hormones like cortisol, which trigger your heart rate to speed up, among other things. This response is named the "Fight or Flight" response. For example; in a haunted house when a jump scare occurs, some people scream and try to get as far away from the trigger point as possible, but some people unconsciously swing and try to fight the trigger point while others try to run away. This unconscious response is a direct result of your brain's hardwired response to a stressor.

Stress can actually be a good thing.

It can help keep you safe, boost your immune system in the short term, and can help you succeed! That Fight or Flight response that I mentioned earlier is one way that stress can keep you safe, you either want to fight the stressor or run from it. In times of actual danger, this hardwired response can make the difference between life or death.

Stress can disrupt our lives. It can make us sick, tired, anxious, but it can also keep us safe. At the end of the day, stress is something we all deal with. For a few stress-busting tips you can check out one of our other blog posts “Dealing with Stress During a Global Pandemic: Top 5 Quick Stress Busters.”

Olivia Gilpin

Social Media Coordinator

Olivia Gilpin is the social media coordinator at Mindsight. She loves teaching her colleagues about TikTok and Snapchat and making sure everyone sees a picture of a puppy at least once per day. When she’s not working, Olivia loves traveling and spending time with her boyfriend, her family, and her many fur babies.

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