How stress affects my body: The Hidden Impact of Stress on Health and Appearance

How stress affects my body: The Hidden Impact of Stress on Health and Appearance

My life journey to this point has been filled with challenges. In my pursuit of professional growth and climbing the corporate ladder I neglected my physical well-being, leading my body to reach its weakest point. I accepted a life filled with stress and anxiety, thinking this was an unavoidable part of life in corporate America. Despite experiencing abrupt weight fluctuations, acne and brittle and dull skin due to stress, everything was going well. My career in tech sales was highly successful. I became the top salesperson on my team, worked for my dream company, and eventually led my own team.

It wasn’t until age 30 that my health took a tragic nosedive. One night, I experienced a life-changing event: my heart was racing and pounding against my chest, while a heavy pressure constricted my breathing. I later learned while in the E.R. that what I had experienced was a panic attack. Shortly after being discharged, I realized how burnt-out and lethargic I felt. There was no more sense of motivation to get out of bed; I fell into a deep depression. My physical appearance had taken a toll: my hair had lost its vitality, adult acne was affecting my skin, and I developed psoriasis on my scalp.

I couldn’t stop asking myself, “How did I get here?” After multiple therapy sessions, the hardest part of healing was forgiving myself for allowing my body to go through this. I had let stress and anxiety turn my youthful glow into a brittle, dull exterior.

For the next three years, I poured myself into studying and researching everything about stress and anxiety.

The following is a summary of my research about how stress influences our health and appearance:
  1. Cardiovascular Health: Stress hormones raise our heart rate and blood pressure. Frequent exposure to these conditions can lead to long-term heart problems.
  2. Breathing Rate: Stress prompts faster breathing to provide more oxygen to the body, which could exacerbate existing breathing issues.
  3. Digestive System: Stress can disturb our digestive process, causing nausea, upset stomach, or bowel irregularities. It can also cause our bodies to overproduce sugar, potentially leading to diabetes.
  4. Muscle Tension: Stress often results in muscle tension, causing headaches, back pain, and general body aches.
  5. Immune System: Chronic stress weakens our immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to infections.
  6. Reproductive Health: Stress can disrupt hormone production in men and alter menstrual cycles or intensify menopause symptoms in women.

Surprisingly, the effects of stress extend beyond our internal health to our external appearance:

7. Skin Health: Stress can trigger skin issues, such as acne, rashes, and even early signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines.

8. Hair Health: Chronic stress can lead to hair thinning and hair loss.

9. Weight: Stress-related eating habits can cause significant weight fluctuations, leading to either weight gain or loss.

10. Eye Health: Stress often results in tired-looking eyes and dark circles. In rare cases, it may even cause vision problems.

11. Posture: Long-term stress can cause persistent muscle tension, leading to noticeable changes in posture.

Remember, understanding the impact of stress is the first step towards protecting ourselves against it. In my following posts, I'll share some of the effective strategies I've discovered to keep stress at bay. So, stay tuned and let's navigate this journey to better health and lesser stress together.

Wishing you a life of plenitude,
Daniela, Co-Founder of iCalm Health
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