Stress is unavoidable in our lives. It manifests itself in diverse ways for different people, but it always has negative consequences. This month, we are taking a look at the negative effects of stress, including physical symptoms it may cause and how to manage stress.
Given that it is 'Stress Awareness Month' in April. It is the perfect time to learn more about this important issue!
There is a multitude of negative physical symptoms that stress can have on our health. Stress can lead to physical and mental problems as well as changes in our behaviour [i].
What is stress awareness month and when is it?
Stress Awareness Month takes place in April (and has done so since 1992) to draw more attention to the 'modern stress epidemic' and the effects of stress, according to the official website. Each year will also revolve around a new theme.
"We have chosen this theme because lack of support can cause loneliness and isolation, which in turn lowers people's well-being, impacts mental health and can lead to mental illness", highlights the Stress Management Society.
The negative effects of stress on our health!
Stress can have many implications on our mental health and cause physical symptoms, including headaches, chest pains, sexual problems, concentration issues, feelings of being overwhelmed/worrying, issues relating to sleeping too little or too much, drinking and much more [i].
We all react differently, and stress is brought on through a mixture of life experiences and genetics [ii].
A study from 2017 looked into the various effects of stress and how it can impact our bodies. It found that stress could play a role in physical symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), negatively affect heart rate/blood pressure and suppress the immune system [iii].
This particular study also highlights that stress can alter our cognitive function, with high levels causing problems with memory and judgement due to how it affects the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex [iii].
Stress can also cause structural changes in the brain, causing long-term effects on the nervous system [iii].
Another of the effects of stress is how it can impact our physical health through changes in our libido. Stress is a function that kicks into motion the body's natural fight or flight system, which prepares the body for danger.
It prioritises certain bodily functions, whilst things such as a person's sex drive take less priority which can result in a lack of libido [iv].
Our sex drive can also be affected by how stress triggers the release of cortisol and epinephrine, which could result in a decreased sex drive [v].
The Mental Health Foundation also highlights how stress can cause negative symptoms related to depression, anxiety and much more [vi].
So, we understand that stress could have a negative effect on our health, but what can we do to counteract this?
How stress affects the body, and how to combat it?
If you are experiencing elevated levels of stress hormones that are altering your physical and mental health, then seek professional advice and help from your local GP.
Stress affects both our physical and mental health throughout our lives. But there are some natural things we can incorporate into our daily lives that could make an impact on managing stress.
How exercise can combat stress
Exercise can naturally produce endorphins in the body, which can boost your mood and help with managing stress, according to information from the Mental Health Foundation [vi].
It's also well documented from a variety of sources that exercise could possibly combat some additional negative effects that come with stress, such as disruptions to sleep, anxiety and depression [vii].
When we are exercising, it can reduce the number of stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline, too [viii].
How ashwagandha extract can deter stress!
There are also natural ingredients we can incorporate into our diets that can help combat stress, such as Ashwagandha.
Used in ancient medicine for 100s of years, a 2017 study into Ashwagandha stated that this ingredient could reduce psychological and physiological markers of stress whilst also improving mental well-being [ix].
It may seem like a difficult ingredient to get a hold of. However, at Nourished, we have made it extremely easy for you to get a daily dose of Ashwagandha through our gummy stacks.
Simply visit our lab and add this natural ingredient, along with 6 others, into a single, delicious gummy that's vegan and sugar-free!
If you would like to read more about this powerful natural ingredient, then you can read our full blog post here and here!
How breathing exercises can help to manage stress!
Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help to reduce stress levels too.
NHS England detail that there are particular breathing exercises that you can do, with them being more effective when done on a regular basis. These do not require a lot of time and can be incorporated into your current routine [x].
The idea of deep breathing is something that seems unnatural for us to do throughout the day, so taking the time to focus on your breath can seem strange.
By doing deep breathing exercises, you are increasing the amount of oxygen around the body, and by doing so, you can slow your heart rate and stabilise blood pressure [xi].
Taking your own Personalised Nutrient Gummies at Nourished
Whether you are looking for ways to aid stress management, combat irritable bowel syndrome or enhance the immune system, then we have a Nourished Nutrient Gummy for you.
With millions of potential combinations to choose from, you can take our quick and easy quiz right now on our website to receive a unique gummy stack of scientifically-backed ingredients just for you.
You can also create your own gummy from our Lab, which will then be freshly 3D-printed by Nourished and delivered directly to your door.
Want to learn more?
If you would like to read more of the studies, claims and references cited in this article then please visit the links below:
- [i] https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/feelings-and-symptoms/stress/
- [ii] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
- [iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579396/
- [iv] https://www.verywellmind.com/how-stress-can-lead-to-low-libido-3145029
- [v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3564490/pdf/nihms438698.pdf
- [vi] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/stress
- [vii] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
- [viii] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
- [ix] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871210/
- [x] https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/breathing-exercises-for-stress/
- [xi] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response