Top 5 Things You Didn't Know Stress Did to Your Body
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
Script written by Spencer Sher
Next time you feel stressed out, remember to try and take steps to calm down because stress can do some pretty scary things to your body! Did you know that it might make you indulge more? That's where the term stress eating comes from. Did you know that stress can cause a bad stomach ache? It can also affect your fertility levels as well.
Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know Stress Did to Your Body
Considering most people experience it from time to time… how much harm can it really do? Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know Stress Did to Your Body.
For this list, we’re looking at the little known ways that stress can affect you.
#5: It Might Make You Indulge More
We’ve all heard the term “stress eating”, but did you know that there’s science behind it? Turns out that when we get stressed, the part of the brain responsible for self-control gets a little sluggish, while the internal reward system goes into overdrive. The end result? Overindulgence. How many times have you reached for a box of cookies while studying for a tough exam, or ice cream after a big fight with your significant other? Many of those poor dietary choices are directly related to the amount of stress you’re under. All that to say… when you’re seriously stressed out, clean eating is an uphill battle. Make sure to keep healthy choices readily available!
#4: It Can Give You a Stomach Ache
If you ever experience an upset stomach when stressed... you’re not alone. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, about 25% of people reported experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms when stressed. It turns out that when we are feeling anxious, our body slows the digestive process, instead choosing to focus its attention on other parts of the body it deems more essential in the moment. At the same time, it becomes hyper aware of bodily pain or discomfort, meaning that any queasiness is likely to get amplified. The next time you’ve got a sudden and unexpected tummy ache, maybe try some relaxation exercises before reaching for the Tums.
#3: It Affects Your Fertility Levels
Stress can seriously impact sexuality. From lowering our sex drive to decreasing fertility levels in both men and women, stress is truly a silent libido killer. For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle, causing irregular periods. For men, stress is often the primary cause behind impotence, erectile dysfunction and low sperm counts. Additionally, it has been discovered that stress may have an effect on the genes you pass down to future offspring. So while you may feel confident in your ability to lead a high anxiety life, consider that it might just come with repercussions beyond your control. For the sake of your unborn children… take it easy!
#2: It Can Cause Memory Loss
We tend to think of stress as fleeting. We feel the way it impacts our body in the moment, but struggle to register the long-term effects. However, according to a 2007 study by Rush University Medical Center, stress-prone people are “about 40% more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.” This translates into a decrease in the amount of power your brain has to process and store information. Stress-related hormones specifically damage an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which manages both short term and long-term memory. So relax, as this may help you remember where you left your keys and hold on to those cherished childhood memories.
#1: It Hurts the Heart
By now you’re likely pretty stressed about stress… and there’s still more to come! In addition to everything else, stress affects the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. So when you start worrying about an exam or screaming at the driver who cut you off, it can lead to an increased heart rate and quicker breaths. This is your body’s way of preparing you for the perceived impending conflict or challenge. Unfortunately, it also causes your heart to work overtime, which can increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. In short, when you get upset, you’re really hurting yourself the most. So go start working on those stress management strategies!