Three Unexpected Impacts of Stress
You’re used to dealing with stress.
Whether you have a work deadline looming over your head or you’re in the middle of a disagreement with someone you care about, stress is part of life.
Usually, it passes.
But when stress is ongoing and chronic, it can have unexpected negative impacts on your life.
Here at KMA Therapy, we know you want to understand what contributes to your mental health. For over 14 years, we’ve educated our clients and community on the ways that different factors can impact your wellbeing.
After reading this article, you’ll know what stress is, how to recognize stress, and three unexpected impacts of stress on your mind and body.
What is Stress?
Stress is a natural response to challenges, threats, or other unsettling things in your environment.
When you’re faced with a threat, your body experiences a stress response - think fight, flight, freeze, and fawn.
Stress can be triggered by different factors, including:
- Mental stressors
- Physical stressors
- Emotional stressors
While a certain level of stress is normal, chronic and extensive stress can have a negative impact on your mind and body.
How to Recognize Stress
It can be hard to recognize your stress, especially if you’ve been living with chronic stress for a long time.
Still, identifying your stress is an important first step for effective stress management.
Signs you’re experiencing a lot of stress include:
- Physical symptoms
- Emotional changes
- Behavioural changes
- Cognitive impairments
- Issues in personal relationships
Physical symptoms, like headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue, are all indicators that you’re experiencing too much stress.
Emotional changes are another clear sign of stress. While it’s normal for your emotions to fluctuate, watch out for increased irritability, anxiety, and sadness.
Behavioural changes can also indicated stress. If you’ve been avoiding seeing friends, having issues with sleeping and eating, or using substances more than usual, explore how stress might be impacting your actions.
Cognitive impairments, like difficulty concentrating, frequent forgetfulness, and overthinking, can all indicate high levels of stress.
Stress can also impact your personal relationships, leading to more conflicts, difficulties with communication, and feelings of isolation.
3 Unexpected Impacts of Stress
Stress is common, so it’s often downplayed.
You might hear that stress is just a part of life, or that you “just need to calm down.”
But dealing with ongoing stress is more than just an inconvenience - it can have negative consequences across different areas of your life.
1. Cognitive impairments
Stress can have immediate impacts on your cognitive function, making you feel forgetful and frustrated. But more evidence is emerging linking stress to long-term cognitive impairments.
A 2023 study found that people with elevated stress levels were 37% more likely to have poor cognition, including difficulties with memory.
2. Immune system suppression
Do you find that you always get sick during the most stressful times of your life?
The mental fatigue and exhaustion from stress can trigger physical symptoms in your body, disrupting your immune system.
3. Physical symptoms
A weakened immune system puts your body at an increased risk for getting sick, but the physical impacts of chronic stress don’t end there.
Stress also increases the chance of:
- Muscle tension
- Digestive issues
- High blood pressure
- Unhealthy changes in weight
Next Steps for Managing Your Stress
After reading this article, you know three ways that stress can impact your life.
Here at KMA Therapy, we’re here to help you manage and overcome chronic stress, and help you lead a healthier and more fulfilling life.
If you’d prefer to keep reading, check out these articles we’ve selected for you: