Stress is an inevitable part of modern life, but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Stress can help us be resilient and creative, and provide us with the energy needed to get things done.

However, when we are exposed to too much stress for too long a period of time, it can become overwhelming and start to affect our physical and mental health in negative ways.

Here are five common ways stress can have an effect on your overall health:

1. Sleep disturbances:
When we are under stress, our body produces an increased amount of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep, as well as lighter and more interrupted sleep. As a result, the quality of sleep is affected and can lead to fatigue and lack of focus during the day. Studies have also linked chronic sleep deprivation with depression, memory impairment, weakened immunity, and even an increased risk of developing certain diseases.

Another effect of stress on our sleeping patterns is difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early in the morning. This can be caused by worries or anxious thoughts that prevent us from being able to relax enough for a deep, restful sleep. It is important to find healthy ways to manage stress levels in order to ensure better quality sleep at night. Exercise during the day, relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation before bedtime and avoiding caffeine late in the evening may help improve your overall sleeping patterns.

2. Digestive issues:

When we experience long-term stress, it can have serious consequences on the digestive system. Cortisol and other hormones secreted in moments of stress can lead to a disruption of our normal digestive processes, leading to a range of issues. These range from abdominal pain, indigestion, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. In extreme cases, it may also cause an increase in susceptibility to gastrointestinal infections such as food poisoning.

Our digestive system is intricately linked to our nervous system as part of the enteric nervous system (ENS). This means that the ENS can be affected by changes in mood and emotional state. Stress can trigger inflammation within the gut wall which may damage the mucosal barrier and disrupt essential functions such as absorption and digestion. This can lead to malnutrition and further health problems over time if not addressed.

It's important to take steps to reduce your level of stress where possible in order to prevent long-term damage to your digestive system. Relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation can help you manage stress levels effectively while ensuring proper nutrition through a balanced diet will give your body the fuel it needs for optimal functioning.

3. Heart health:

When we are exposed to stress, our body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that produce a range of physical effects. This “fight or flight” response increases our heart rate and blood pressure, which can put additional strain on the cardiovascular system. Over time, this can lead to a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems.

Stress has also been linked to irregular heartbeat and atrial fibrillation. Individuals who experience chronic stress may be more prone to conditions like hypertension or high cholesterol that can damage the walls of their arteries over time. This increases their risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke due to reduced blood flow in the affected area.

In addition to these physical changes, stress can also affect your mental wellbeing by increasing feelings of anxiety and depression. These psychological issues can further increase one’s susceptibility for having a heart attack due to additional stress placed on the cardiovascular system. It is therefore important to take steps towards reducing overall stress levels in order to improve your heart health and ensure optimal functioning of the body’s various systems.

Engaging in regular exercise has been shown to reduce both mental and physical tension associated with stress while proper nutrition with ample intake of vitamins and minerals will aid in cell regeneration and improved cardiovascular function. Additionally, methods such as meditation or yoga have proven effective in relieving tension throughout the body by promoting relaxation of muscles, allowing for better circulation of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body thus preventing certain types of heart diseases.

4. Mental health:
Stress can have a profound impact on our mental health, affecting our mood, cognition, and behaviour. It can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Long-term exposure to stress can also cause neurological changes in the brain which may further affect one’s mental health.

Many of us are familiar with the “fight or flight” response which is triggered by perceived threat or danger. This response releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that increase heart rate and blood pressure while decreasing sexual arousal, digestion and immunity. These changes are short-term but if this response is activated frequently over a long period of time, it can lead to chronic stress which has adverse effects on our mental wellbeing.

Chronic stress can cause changes in the brain that impact our cognitive function, leading to difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks at hand. It also affects how we process information and make decisions; making it harder for us to think clearly and respond appropriately in challenging situations. The emotional part of the brain is also affected; causing us to be more prone to feeling overwhelmed or stressed out by minor disruptions or social interactions. This can manifest itself through increased irritability or hostility towards others.

5. Immune system:

Stress impacts the immune system by weakening its ability to fight off infections and diseases. When we are exposed to stress, our bodies produce a cascade of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which can suppress the activity of certain immune cells. In addition, chronic stress can lead to higher levels of inflammation, putting us at risk for developing long-term health ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.

The immune system is made up of various components that work together to protect the body from illness or injury. These include lymphocytes (white blood cells) which recognize foreign invaders and trigger an immune response, antibodies which help ward off infection, and cytokines which are responsible for sending messages between different parts of the body's defense system. Stress alters these processes by suppressing the production of protective proteins that are needed to recognize and destroy invading microorganisms. This can weaken our immunity leaving us more vulnerable to common illnesses such as colds or flu.

In addition, higher levels of stress in individuals has been associated with an increased risk for developing autoimmune disorders like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis where the body begins attacking its own healthy tissues due to misidentification of them as foreign invaders.


By managing our stress levels and taking steps to reduce our exposure to stressful situations, we can help protect ourselves from the potential health risks associated with chronic stress. Regular exercise, relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, and spending time with friends and family are all great ways to relieve stress and keep your body healthy.

If you’re struggling to manage your stress levels on your own, it is important to seek professional help. A mental health expert can provide helpful coping strategies that can make a world of difference in managing your stress levels. Taking care of yourself both mentally and physically is an essential part of staying healthy and enjoying life.

Author's Bio: 

Ambassador of JOY, Barry Shore, is a change maker and life transformer whose profound message of JOY is being embraced around the globe. A successful entrepreneur, Barry was afflicted suddenly with a crippling disease that left him a quadriplegic overnight. Barry’s decision to use this experience to better his life and the lives of others has opened a unique opportunity to find JOY in living regardless of circumstance. Barry’s Keep Smiling Movement has distributed over a million Keep Smiling Cards free to all. His radio show/podcast, The JOY of Living is heard worldwide with 100 thousand downloads per month. Barry founded the JOY of Living Institute, helping thousands of people learn to live in JOY every day. Barry is a charismatic, JOY-contagious speaker who captivates his audiences and elevates them to a new level of extraordinary. Embraced by numerous major media outlets and a host of well-known celebrities, Barry is a must-have speaker for your next event! Barry Shore has a best selling book on Amazon. Coming soon, his newest title: STRESS KILLS… JOY Heals.