Here’s What Happens To Your Body When You Bottle Up All Of Your Stress

what stress does to your body

Unsplash/Finn Hackshaw

What’s the first thing you tend to do when you notice you’re feeling a bit stressed? That’s right, you shove it to that far corner of your brain so you can focus on your task at hand, and then you hope that it eventually just dissolves into the ether. Oh, what a wonderful world it would be if that’s how the cortisol hormone worked.

Compartmentalizing all of your stress may, in the short term, make you feel like the most professional and productive person alive, but those cortisol levels are wreaking havoc on the inside of your body. Here’s what happens, from the top down, when you choose to bottle up all of your stress rather than let it out.

Oy, My Head

Science links chronic stress to an increase in headaches, which can escalate to migraine issues. And that moodiness you’re feeling? Blame it on the cortisol as well. Too much stress consistently increases anxiety, anger, irritability, depression symptoms and feelings of restlessness and lost motivation. Oh, and your face will show it, too. We’re talking breakouts, acne and even wrinkles. Blegh all around.

Everything Hurts And I’m Dying

Research also connects chronic stress to symptoms like muscle tension (often in the neck and shoulders), chest pains, high blood pressure, rapid breathing, heartburn, stomach aches and stomach ulcers. You also run an increased risk of having a heart attack as you get older. Your immune system hates stress, too. It pretty much goes into hiding when cortisol comes out to play.

what stress does to your body

Unsplash/Eutah Mizushima

I’m Just Not In The Mood

Chronic stress won’t do much for your love life, either. Besides totally killing any semblance of a sex drive that existed, stress can leave women trying to conceive facing additional fertility struggles and missed periods, and men could deal with newfound erectile dysfunction issues. Reproductive health is a major component of living well, so don’t discount it when you’re evaluating your stress-related symptoms.

Seriously, Don’t Make Me Move

Sustaining higher levels of cortisol in the body can make you generally fatigued and lethargic. Your digestive system feels out of whack, so eating is no longer fun (or you seriously overdo it and then immediately regret it). You feel exhausted, but sleep just isn’t happening. The world basically sucks, so forget wanting to get up and go out with your friends or hit the gym. You just feel like being a recluse in all of your stressed-out discomfort. Only Netflix and Ben and Jerry seem to be helpful, and even they end up making some of your chronic stress symptoms worse.

So the next time you hold your tongue in a frustrating meeting or take all of that work stress home with you after a long, grueling day, think back to these symptoms and remember just how much you don’t want to deal with all of this mess. You’re better off venting to your BFF, hitting the yoga mat or taking some meditative deep breaths. Find that constructive outlet and save yourself from a world of pain.


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