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Published on September 25, 2020

The Effects of Stress on Your Body And Mind (You Never Knew)

The Effects of Stress on Your Body And Mind (You Never Knew)

We’ve all experienced the effects of stress in one form or another. Feeling stressed out sucks, especially when it becomes chronic.

Stress affects everything from your digestion, immune function, cognition, and mood. In simplest terms, stress is your body’s response to changes that take place in your environment that are deemed ‘unsafe.’

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect environment for a full-blown stress meltdown. It is normal to feel stressed right now. The world feels like it’s upside down—literally.

On top of that, the uncertainty and constant health threats surrounding COVID-19 have led to a surge in mental health issues. A study found that 70% of the U.S. population have identified as moderately to severely distressed since the onset of the pandemic.[1] Can you relate?

It has never been more important to master our emotional health. The pandemic has shown us that, while we can’t control the external world, we always have control over how we respond to it.

Everyone experiences stress, but not everyone deals with it in the same way. The good news is that you have the power to effectively manage your stress so that your world doesn’t feel like it’s falling apart every time you’re hit with a challenge.

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Before you can do that, it’s important to understand how the mind-body connection works.

The Mind-Body Connection and Stress

Despite popular opinion, the mind and the body are not two separate entities. Your physical body impacts your emotions and visa versa. As you can imagine, if there is disharmony in the body, there will also be disharmony in the mind, which in turn will influence your stress levels.

One study found that the type of energy patterns that are carried by certain words and intentions can cause physical changes in DNA structure which become the building blocks of your body.[2]

Have you ever felt a nauseous feeling in your stomach when you’re anxious about something? If so, you’ve experienced the mind-body connection at play.

The next time you find yourself saying something negative, remember that your thoughts determine how your body behaves. Negative emotions contribute to dis-ease in the body. Be mindful of the words you speak because your body is always listening to you. What you think, you become.

The Effects of Stress on the Mind and Body

Life is a rollercoaster ride which means that stress will happen. You cannot hide from it. The best thing that you can do is take preventative measures to ensure that stress doesn’t wreak havoc on your mind and body over the long-term. Here are 3 lesser-known effects of stress.

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1. Weakened Immune System

Your health is your wealth. Without you, you have nothing. If you don’t have a strong immune system, your body won’t be able to fight off disease and/or viruses.

COVID-19 has taught us how important it is to take care of our immune systems. If you want to maintain a strong immune system get a good night’s sleep, do regular exercise, eat healthy foods, take immune-boosting supplements, and commit to relaxation practices.[3] This is how you will train your immune system to work for you instead of against you.

2. Gut Problems

There is a strong correlation between digestive health and stress. The gut and the brain are constantly communicating and sending signals to one another.

Have you ever felt like you were punched in the gut after receiving awful news? Have you ever felt butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous about something? These reactions happen for a reason.

An imbalanced intestine can send signals to the brain, just as an imbalanced brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach pains can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression.[4]

So, the next time you have an unexplained stomach ache, your stress levels could be the culprit. Avoid foods that can irritate your stomach and aggravate the symptoms of stress, like refined sugars and fried foods. I like to take acidophilus regularly which helps to increase healthy bacteria in the gut.

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Lastly, I encourage you to create a daily Kundalini yoga practice. Kundalini yoga is great for stimulating the flow of energy in the body. There are specific Kundalini exercises that support healthy digestion, some of which include Breath of Fire, Stretch Pose, and Sat Kriya.

3. Depression

Stress is a normal response to positive and negative life experiences. However, if you have trouble coping with stress over the long-term, you can put yourself at risk for developing depression. Sustained or chronic stress leads to elevated hormones such as cortisol, and reduced serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine.[5]

When you experience heightened levels of stress, you are more likely to experience a low mood. Unfortunately, a low mood will make you more prone to not engaging in healthy activities, like exercising and eating well. As a result, your mood will suffer even more.

This toxic spiraling effect is what causes a lot of people to experience symptoms of depression, like fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite, or in severe cases, suicidal thoughts.

COVID-19 has put a lot of people at risk for depression. With everything that is currently going on in the world, people are more susceptible to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness which can precipitate the onset of depression.

One of the best ways to prevent yourself from falling into a spiral of sadness is to seek professional help. A psychologist or a coach can help you navigate through the difficult times and give you tools for reducing stress and anxiety.

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Secondly, create a daily mindfulness-based practice and make it a non-negotiable. Mindfulness can be in the form of meditation, yoga, dancing, tai chi, or breathwork.

Practicing mindfulness helps you reprogram negative thoughts and reassess difficult experiences with a more calm mind.

Don’t Allow Stress to Take Over Your Life

You have two choices—you can either let stressors suffocate your health and well-being, or you can transform your wounds into wisdom and rewrite a new story.

If you’re scared, it’s okay. You’re human. Allow yourself to feel everything, but don’t lose yourself in the mess. Take a deep breath and trust that your strength is greater than any struggle.

Tips on How to Deal With the Effects of Stress

Featured photo credit: Christian Erfurt via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

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Last Updated on March 24, 2021

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

1. Smart Door Locks

A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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2. Smart Kitchen Tools

Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

5. Nest Thermostat

This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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6. Smart Lighting

Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

7. Google Chromecast Ultra

Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

8. Canary

This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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