5 Crazy Things Stress Can Do to Your Body

Everyone gets stressed at one time or another. There are so many stressors around us that it’s just impossible to avoid stress. While some level of stress can be beneficial to you, high levels can be quite damaging to your body. Some of the damage can make you step back and think, “Whoa — I had no idea THAT was what stress was doing to me.”

To help you protect your health, we’d like to shed some light on five crazy things stress can do to your body, and how you can de-stress to keep those things from happening.

5 Crazy Things Stress Can Do to Your Body

1. It Short-Circuits Your Brain

When you’re under high levels of stress, your cortical networks begin to malfunction. This can affect your ability to think critically and plan, according to Erno Hermans, Ph.D., from Radboud University in the Netherlands.

What to Do About It

Take a step back from what is causing so much stress and do something to take your mind off of it such as gardening, watching television or some other hobby you enjoy. This will help your brain recover and either keep your cortical networks from malfunctioning or spark them back into action.

2. It Gives You a Stomachache

You probably already know that when you’re stressed, your stomach is more likely to start hurting. What you may not know is the reason behind it. Your brain and gut are connected, and when you’re really stressed, it overstimulates the area of your brain responsible for intestinal regulation. When your intestines are not functioning properly, your stomach can become irritated, which causes nausea.

What to Do About It

When you know you’re going to face stress, drink some tummy relievers such as ginger tea, ginger ale or milk. These will help calm your stomach, so you may not experience the problems you usually do when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

3. It Shrinks Your Brain

Biological Psychiatry reports when you’re going through high levels of stress, such as a divorce or getting laid off from your job, your brain could shrink. It found stress reduces gray matter in the brain that’s responsible for emotion and physiological processes. What’s even worse is this change in your brain could lead to psychiatric problems in the future.

What to Do About It

See a therapist to discuss the stress you’re under so you can process your emotions. While it may be difficult to talk about what you’re going through, you’re actually helping your brain by venting all of that turmoil you have inside of you. Allow yourself to mourn the losses in your life, so you can heal in a healthy way and protect your brain.

4. It Affects Future Offspring

Stress can seep into your eggs or sperm and then manifest in your children someday. It’s a process called epigenetic inheritance. This can cause your children to have heightened levels of stress for hard-to-deal with situations.

What to Do About It

Take care of yourself to keep your stress levels at a low level. Eating well, exercising, and taking time out when you’re faced with challenges can help your body and mind recover from all of the troubles you’re dealing with in your life.

5. It Can Give You a Heart Attack

You may not want to believe it, but it’s true. Those who feel anxiety or stress have a 27% higher risk of suffering from a heart attack. This risk is equivalent to those who smoke five cigarettes a day. So if you’ve been taking care of your body in other ways, except for lowering stress, you may still be headed toward serious medical conditions.

What to Do About It

Find what works for you. Yoga can reduce stress for some people, while others find playing sports a good way to relax.

Now that you know what stress is really doing to your body, make it a priority to decrease it. Not only will you feel better but you’ll be protecting your health and your future children•

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