How Do Our Bodies React to Stress, and How Can We Combat It?

Common Causes of Stress

Stress is generally due to relationships (family, friends, spouse), the workplace, or financial pressure.

  • Getting divorced
  • Personal injury or illness
  • Going to jail
  • Getting fired
  • Getting married
  • a tremendous feeling of responsibility (usually coupled with an incredible sense of loss of control),

Symptoms of Stress

Physical symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • General aches and pains
  • Muscle tension in face, neck and shoulders (e.g. teeth-grinding, jaw-clenching)
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive Issues (e.g. indigestion, acid reflux symptoms)
  • Loss of libido
  • Problems sleeping
  • Feelings of depression or anxiety
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Lack of focus
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Issues with memory and organization
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Negative and anxious thoughts
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using unhealthy coping mechanisms (e.g. drinking, drugs)
  • Nervous habits (e.g. biting nails)
  • Straining relationships with others (usually due to irritability)
  • Increased cynicism and loss of trust

Fight, Flight, Freeze, Flop, Fawn, Fatigue, Friend

Ever heard of a “fight or flight” reaction? That’s when your body registers that there’s a threat nearby, and gears itself up to face this danger — or flee it. We call this a stress response or the process of allostasis.

The Devil is in the Details

Earlier, I mentioned that our bodies are complex. I also said that stress could disrupt many mechanisms in our bodies.

The more frequently you experience stress, the more damaging effects you will feel.

When you’re stressed, many components of your mind and body are disturbed, such as:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Central nervous system (CNS) disturbances
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Skin conditions
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • A weakened immune system
  • Strain on the musculoskeletal system
  • Reproductive system disruptions

Dealing With Stress

Unfortunately, in the efficiency-driven world we live in today, it is difficult to deal with stress positively. Many people go through life paycheck-to-paycheck and cannot afford time off work to relax. But sometimes, just taking a deep breath can help center yourself.

  • Plan your day. Time management and organization can help you retain a sense of control over your life. If you’re generally cluttered, maybe whipping up a quick to-do list might bring order to your day.
  • Learn to relax. Self-care is essential, even if it’s just taking five minutes off work to reflect on what’s going on in your life. Start a journal, learn to meditate, or download a self-care app.
  • Practice honest and open communication. With friends and family when something is wrong, and with the people causing stress in your life. If you’re in a situation where you don’t feel that’s possible, consider talking to a professional.
  • Modify your lifestyle. Smoking, excess drinking, drugs, and unhealthy eating can exacerbate the negative feelings you are already experiencing. That doesn’t mean you have to become a health whiz — merely recognizing the signals your body gives you when you’re engaging in unhealthy behavior can bring drastic changes to your mood.
  • Exercise. This may help boost your self-esteem and overall feelings of well-being and combat the adverse effects of stress.



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Ryver Knight

Ryver Knight


Student by day, YA fantasy author by night. Currently fighting a caffeine addiction and daydreams of eating cookies for a living…it’s a struggle. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯