Spotlight on Stress: How Stress Can Mess With Your Healthy, Happy, Glow
The American Medical Association has recognised stress as the basic cause of more than 60% of illnesses and diseases and it’s thought that 75% – 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related complaints. I don’t know about you, but to me that seems a lot!! And whether or not you live in the US I would hazard a guess and say that these stats would probably reflect what’s going on the world over.
When most people think about stress they think of the big stressors like the loss of a loved one, moving house, doing exams or a looming deadline. But in fact we face more stress daily and people just don’t realise it. The everyday pressures and little stressors our body experiences have become the norm as we’re ‘always on’, ‘tuned in’ and ‘busy’. While on a physical level our bodies may be feeling the stress, it’s not always being registered by our consciousness and the reality is that our bodies don’t care if it’s a big or a small stress, it basically reacts in the same way.
So these little stressors accumulate until a breaking point whether it be physical (e.g. an illness, a skin breakout), emotional (e.g. outburst) or mental (e.g. bad decision). I know I’ve experienced all three many times! The problem with a physical illness resulting from stress is often times the symptoms are treated or managed rather than the underlying root cause (stress!).
It doesn’t matter if you eat healthy foods all day everyday stress can totally mess with your healthy, happy, glow. Here’s just some of the ways:
- Weakened immune system and increased inflammation
- Digestive disorders including IBS. Stress can disturb the delicate balance of micro-organisms in the gut leading to multiple digestive problems such as constipation, the overgrowth of bad bacteria and gut permeability. This permeability creates a leaky gut which leads to inflammation, food sensitivities and even autoimmune disease.
- Increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks and stroke
- Insomnia, teeth grinding or TMJ
- Weight gain and obesity. Elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels can increase blood sugar levels leading to an increased risk of diabetes. Increased levels of cortisol can result in cravings for high sugar, high fat foods and can also make your body store excess fat around the belly area. If you are having trouble shifting weight around your middle, check your stress levels.
- It’s said that 95% of your serotonin (sometimes called the happy hormone) is in your gut. As previously stated stress can disturb the gut leading to not only digestive problems but also problems to do with anxiety, mood, behaviour etc.
- Impaired brain function and memory
- Skin is more sensitive and reactive
- Premature aging (wrinkles!!!!!)
- Acne / psoriasis
- Hair thinning / hair loss
As someone with an autoimmune disease I have become aware of the mind body connection and the effects of stress on my body and realise it’s something I have to work on managing every day.
In an upcoming blog I’ll talk about some of the known and maybe not-so-known stressors that life throws our way and some of the useful ways of managing them. We can’t get rid of stress totally (nor should we want to – some stress is good) but we can reduce it.
Have a great weekend!