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The effect stress has on your body

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

How often do you feel that your heart races, your breath quickens, maybe your palms start to sweat, your muscles tense up, you feel nauseous, you loose appetite, you experience diarrhoea etc? These are stress hormones causing you feel this way. This stress response is natural mental and physical response and good, when you are in a fight or flight situation, like where you need to run for your life. But when you are experiencing stressful feeling on a day-to-day basis, it can put your health at great risk, especially over time.

Below I will highlight how stress can impact your body, so you are aware and can mindfully take action to reduce stress and counteract it with calming activities. I will also highlight some foods that are specifically good for stress relief.

Racing heart

Stress makes your heart pump faster so that blood can reach your limbs and vital organs faster.

Fast breathing

Stress makes your muscles that help with breathing tense up leaving you out of breath

High blood pressure

Stress hormones also tighten your blood vessels which can lead to higher blood pressure

Higher risk of heart attack

If you have an increased heart rate and high blood pressure for longer period of time, it damages your arteries, makes your heart work harder, leading to a heart attack.


Stress very often triggers and intensifies tension headaches.

Increased chances of depression

If you are chronically stressed, it wears you down emotionally and can lead to depression


Racing thoughts and pounding heart makes it harder to fall asleep and also stay soundly asleep leading to insomnia


Stress increases the production of stomach acid in your stomach and causing heartburn. And no, acid blockers are not the solution here, as they lower the stomach acid, but allow other symptoms like small intestine bacterial overgrowth to develop due to undigested food if there is not enough stomach acid in the stomach to break down the food.

Stomach pains and digestive issues

Stress often influences digestive system causing nausea, stomach ache and other digestive issues. Overeating and not eating are often the responses to stressful situations, days, weeks. Your liver also produces extra blood sugar under stress, which over time makes your body not handle this surge of constant glycose, increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Weaker immune system

If you are experiencing stress during a long period of time, it weakens your immune system, leaving your body more vulnerable to catch colds, viruses and infections.

Negative effect on your libido

Stress and the exhaustion that comes with it often causes low sex drive. In men stress also causes erectile dysfunction.

Irregular menstruation

As stress influences hormones, it can throw off your menstrual cycle or in case of severe stress period can stop altogether.

Issues with fertility

In a stressful period, your body does not even think of making a baby. Stress interferes with the reproductive system both in women and in men, making it harder to conceive.

Tense muscles

When you are stressed you will feel the tension-related backaches, neck pains, tension in your shoulders. Stress tenses your muscles, which is supposed to happen only for a short period of time, so you can quickly deal with the stressful situation. Long-term stress causes long-term tension and pain in the muscles.

Managing stress

As you can see stress really influences your whole body and if nothing done about managing the stress, it can break down your body piece by piece.

What are the actions you can take to manage stress?

  • Identify the triggers and see how you can avoid at least some of them

  • Maintain a healthy diet filled with whole foods and avoiding processed foods

  • Minimise or eliminate the use of caffeine and alcohol

  • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night

  • Exercise on a regular basis- walking in nature, a combination of cardio, weight and relaxing physical movements

  • Stay socially connected to receive and provide support when and where needed

  • Practice active breathing and meditation- try to find 5-10 minutes in your day for these activities

  • Make time for self-care, relaxation and rest

What foods to incorporate more in your diet to help calm the stress?

  • Green leafy vegetables- high in vitamin C, magnesium and folate

  • Avocados- high in B vitamins, potassium

  • Asparagus- high in folate

  • Garlic- helps to reduce the amount of stress hormones body produces and protects against diseases

  • Dried apricots- high in magnesium, vitamin C and fibre

  • Bananas- high in potassium, contain B vitamins and tryptophan

  • Broccoli- high in vitamin C

  • Blueberries- high in vitamin C and antioxidants

  • Fermented foods- gut is the number 1 place to start when you feel stressed or anxious. Beneficial bacteria you get from fermented foods have a direct impact on your gut and on your mood.

  • Fish- specifically salmon, because of it's high Omega-3 fatty acid content

  • Plain Yoghurt- apart from having a good impact on your gut, yoghurt also helps to calm the brain. Add some blueberries, chia seeds, almonds to it to create a healthy breakfast.

If you feel your stress is becoming totally overwhelmed, seek help from a therapist. Talking with someone and getting them to help you see the bigger picture can get you to have a different perspective on your situation and life.

If you are looking to gain more balance in your life in different areas that influence your health, don't hesitate to contact me for health coaching at Learn more about my health coaching services under Services menu.

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