How Stress Affects Your Hormones

How Stress Affects Your Hormones

Stress is defined as a “physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.” Everyone has stress in their daily lives, but did you know too much stress can affect more than just your mood? Too much stress in the body can lead to hormonal imbalances and long term health issues. 

When you’re feeling stress, the hypothalamus tells your pituitary gland to produce certain hormones, which then signals the adrenal glands to increase the levels of cortisol in your body. During stressful situations, cortisol is important for providing the energy your body needs to deal with such situations- also known as your ‘fight or flight’ response. Certain stress hormones, like cortisol are important in regulating your immune system, hormones and inflammation within the body. This is how chronic stress can lead to hormonal imbalances or health issues such as chronic fatigue, metabolic disorders or obesity (American Psychological Association, 2020). 

So, how exactly does chronic stress affect your health? When your body is constantly producing stress hormones, it can cause a number of issues within the body. 

.Stomach pains or diarrhea. 

.Obesity. This can be caused by an increase in appetite in times of chronic stress. 

.Weakened immune system which could lead to more colds or infections.

.Anxiety, depression, insomnia or low interest in physical activity can all be caused by chronic stress.

.Memory and decision-making impairment.

.Increase in blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. 

.Hormonal imbalances within the body.

How do you know if you’re too stressed?

If you’re suffering from long term stress or chronic stress you might feel fatigue or depression, chest pain or fast heartbeat, dizziness, shakiness or difficulty breathing. Chronic stress can also lead to irregular menstrual cycles, erectile disfunction and loss of sex drive. 

How can you manage chronic stress?

If you’re constantly stressed out or feeling chronically stressed, there are many ways you can manage your stress naturally! 

.Exercise regularly. Moderate daily exercise has been shown to naturally reduce stress levels, reduce feelings of anxiety as well as depression.

.Getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night.

.Eat a healthy, low-fat diet and decrease your caffeine and alcohol intake.

.Practice breathwork if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Focus on equal inhales and exhales to calm the nervous system down.
If you need suggestions on managing stress, eating healthier or need help with your overall wellness be sure to schedule your free consultation with our clinical director today!

Lorrie Rappe
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