All the things going on in your life -- work, family, trying to get (or stay!) fit, etc. -- can all add up to stress, even if the stressor is a positive one. “Stress is a physiological and emotional response to a threat,” says John McGrail, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based clinical hypnotherapist and author of “The Synthesis Effect: Your Direct Path to Personal Power and Transformation.” The problem is that modern society often creates long-term chronic stress, which can be devastating to both the mind and body. Stress can manifest in some surprising and weird ways on our bodies, read on to discover some of these side effects.
1.-Slower workout recovery
High levels of stress hormones circulating through your system can make it harder for your body to recover from a workout, according to a study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. The study evaluated the relationship between perceived mental stress and workout recovery among 31 college students and found that the students with high levels of stress experienced worse recoveries as rated by feelings of energy, fatigue and soreness. Since elevated cortisol levels break down muscle and store fat, chronic stress keeps hormones jacked up, which delays your workout recovery.
Trying to remember where you put your car keys becomes even harder when you’re stressed about getting to your appointment on time, says a study from the Nature Reviews Neuroscience. The study shows stress creates changes in the brain that can produce long-term consequences for mental performance. Another study from the University of Iowa links high levels of stress with changes in the short-term memory center of the brain in older rats. Stress can ‘fog up’ your memory, so remembering simple things becomes a monumental hurdle.
Can stress make you fat? Apparently so. According to a study in the journal Obesity, which followed 5,000 people over five years, psychosocial stress, including life events and perceived stress, links to weight gain but not weight loss. “People tend to reach for sugary, fatty and salty foods when they’re stressed,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., senior science adviser for Elements Behavioral Health and author of “The Hunger Fix.” In addition, research suggests eating fatty foods when your cortisol levels are high (such as when under stress) actually lowers your metabolism.
Stress over work issues or life events can keep you tossing and turning all night, taking away from restful sleep. This loss of sleep links to a number of health issues, including a greater risk of heart disease and obesity and a compromised immune system. Problem is, it’s a vicious cycle, where insomnia worsens stress and depression, which then keeps you up at night.
5.-Weakened immune system
Chronic stress can make it harder for you to fend off viruses and bugs by lowering your immune system response, shows a study from the journal Psychological Bulletin. Interestingly, the study shows that short-term stress (such as a sudden reaction to a life-and-death situation) produced beneficial changes in the immune system. But the more chronic the stress, the greater negative impact on the immune system, which researchers believe may be due to hormonal changes.
A traumatic event or stressor can cause hair loss two to three months afterward, says Robert Dorin, D.O., New York-based hair-restoration expert. Telogen effluvium is a condition caused by stress in which the hairs’ growth phase is prematurely shifted into its resting phase, resulting in thinning of the hair, he says. Psychological and/or physical stressors such as depression, anxiety, lack of sleep and chronic illness can all trigger telogen effluvium.
7.-Poor sexual performance
Stress can also take the wind out of your sails in the bedroom. This can occur in a variety of ways, says Muhammad Mirza, M.D., a men’s health expert and founder of erectiledoctor.com. “Stress can make a man feel no longer interested in sexual activity altogether. Feeling stressed about intimacy itself can result in performance anxiety.” Left on its own, ongoing stress can also cause chemical and hormonal changes that can lead to worsening sexual problems in the form of erectile dysfunction and/or loss of libido.
Eyes also feel the impact of stress. Stress-related eye symptoms range from simple eye twitches to hysterical blindness (reduced peripheral vision), says Andrea Thau, O.D., spokeswoman for the American Optometric Association (AOA). Hysterical blindness requires identifying the underlying cause of the emotional stress. A more common symptom, an eyelid twitch called myokymia, can also be induced by stress. In addition to eliminating the cause of the stress.
9.-Stress causes type II diabetes
Men under chronic stress have a substantially higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared with men who report no stress or occasional stress, says a Swedish study. More than 6,800 men involved with the study rated their stress level on a six-point scale based on factors such as irritation, anxiety and conditions at work and home. Men who reported permanent stress related to work or home conditions within the previous one to five years had a 45 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.
If you noticed an uptick in your allergy symptoms, it could be related to your new job or home stresses, according to an Ohio State University study. The 12-week study involved 179 patients and found increased allergy flare-ups linked within days of increased daily stress. And in a high-stress group, 64 percent had more than four flare-ups over two 14-day periods.