What Stress Really Does to Your Body

Updated on November 18, 2021

Stress is a response that your body has, which can be triggered by something internal or external. There is such a thing called positive stress, but most of us know the negative side of it.

It can lead to feeling overwhelmed, anxious, mad, or sad. Although stress affects everyone differently, many of us fight similar battles with it. A common physical response that your body does when dealing with stress is releasing a hormone that triggers a fight/flight response. This can negatively affect impact your immune system and other functions of your body. There are other common symptoms that people experience from exposure to periods of prolonged stress. 

Today, we will break down what stress really does to your body, while reviewing practical ways to combat it. 

Emotional Effects of Stress 

Many of us have been down some of these emotional paths. They can last for minutes, or months. It is all situation. Emotions are unique to each person. The same goes for how we handle stress. Several examples of the emotional effects from experiencing prolonged stress include:

  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Our mood can be dramatically influenced by these emotions. They can oftentimes feel overwhelming and impossible to deal with in the moment.

Physical Effects of Stress 

Even if the stress started internally, it can affect external things. This includes functions of your body, and how you physically feel. A few examples include:

  • Migraines
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sweating
  • Aches and Pains

Again, individuals cope with stress differently than others. The level of stress and how you cope with stress may cause you to experience other symptoms, but these symptoms are common amongst most people. If you are experiencing these effects over prolonged periods of time, you be experiencing things like lack of energy. These physical feelings are difficult to combat, and even harder to identify sometimes.

What Stress Does to Your Body 

Some of these symptoms are more serious than others and may only be developed due to chronic stress. Symptoms such as headaches, frustration and sweating, may only be a result of short periods of stress. However, symptoms such as depression and anxiety can be developed due to prolonged periods of stress.

Aches and pains can show up as chronic injuries from experiencing stress over time. Have you ever heard of someone throwing their back out on a very stressful day? While sometimes that can be caused by a physical motion, it can also be influenced by heavy amounts of stress or anxiety.

The lower back is a place where many people hold tension that can be caused by stress. Think of your back as your body’s support. If you feel beaten down emotionally and stressed out, you likely don’t feel very supported.

There are professionals in multiple fields that can help you with chronic injuries. For example, you can find a chiropractor that helps with migraines, along with traditional lower back pain. Ideally, you will find a health professional that works with both the physical and emotional components of your injuries or pain. If stress is a major factor regarding your pain or discomfort, do you best to also acknowledge and address that.

How Serious is Stress?

Stress is something that should be taken very seriously. As your grow older there are stressors that you deal with daily, but it is best to recognize them and confront them. The key is to recognize what stresses you out and develop a plan for those situations. The more you prepare yourself to deal with certain situations the better you are at resolving those issues and avoiding any potential detriments to your health.

Stress is as much a part of life as eating or sleeping. It’s not going to magically disappear, though we wish it would. What are the best ways to properly manage it? 

Healthy Diet

“Garbage in, garbage out”. What you put in your body is incredibly important to how you feel. Life has never been more hectic and it’s easy to fall into bad dietary habits. Stress eating, or binging on sugars, is not a sustainable coping mechanism. By changing your diet and eating cleaner foods, you can feel better physically throughout the day, and most likely happier emotionally.

More Movement, Less Stress

It’s no secret that exercise can be a crucial tool to decrease your stress. You don’t have to take our word for it; the science is clear across multiple studies that being active makes you feel better.

Like carbs and serotonin, exercise produces endorphins that improve your outlook. This doesn’t mean you have to join a gym to decrease your stress. Even if you’re not in the best physical condition, there’s probably a form of exercise that’s right for you. 

Simply by going on long walks, you can enjoy nature while fitting exercise into your day.

Breathing Exercises

Meditation isn’t for everyone. Not all of us have an hour to sit and clear our minds.

There are plenty of simple, practical exercises you can perform to decrease stress through breathing. Particularly in the morning, you can practice deep breathing exercises for 5-10 minutes, which can help decrease stress. Consistent, deep breathing increases blood flow throughout your body and oxygen to your brain. There is power in breath. Use this effective, free tool to your advantage when trying to combat stress.


Life can be challenging. It’s very difficult to wake up each day feeling the best that we ever have. Stress is a legitimate issue in our society. The best steps that you can initially take to combat stress are to acknowledge it.

By creating this awareness of how you are truly feeling, you give yourself permission to feel in the present moment. This allows your mind to think more clearly about some solutions that could be a good fit for you and your needs. 

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