The Science of Stress: Understanding How Stress Impacts Your Body

The Science of Stress: Understanding How Stress Impacts Your Body

Exploring Stress Effects on the Body: Understanding the Impact of Stress on Your Physical Wellbeing

Stress is a common experience that affects people from all walks of life. Whether it's due to work, relationships, or other life circumstances, stress can have a much bigger impact on our bodies than we might realise. In fact, most people have experienced physical and mental symptoms of stress without realising it.

Understanding how stress affects the body is essential if you want to manage it effectively and enjoy the feeling of overall wellbeing.

Short-term Effects of Stress on the Body

When we experience stress, our bodies go into a "fight or flight" response. This response triggers a cascade of physiological changes aimed at helping us deal with the perceived threat. 

In the short term, stress can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. It can also show itself in the form of muscle tension, headaches, and digestive issues. These physical symptoms are the body's way of preparing for action. 

When we experience a physical reaction to stress, it’s so important we listen to our bodies and make the needed changes.

Long-term Effects of Stress on the Body

While the short-term effects of stress are temporary and usually pass once the stressor is removed, chronic stress, often silent but serious, can have long-lasting effects on both physical and mental health.

Prolonged exposure to stress hormones, such as cortisol, can weaken the immune system, making us more vulnerable to illnesses. It can also lead to cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Mental health took a back seat for such a long time, but now we know that chronic stress can negatively impact mental wellbeing, increasing the risk of anxiety and depression. 

There’s also emerging research suggesting that prolonged stress can impair memory and learning, hindering cognitive function and academic or professional performance.

Physical Reactions to Stress

Stress can manifest in various physical ways, and how stress can affect an individual changes from one person to another. 

Some people experience tension headaches or migraines, while others may notice an increase in muscle pain and stiffness. Digestive issues, such as stomach aches, nausea, or changes in appetite, are also common physical reactions to stress. Skin problems, like acne or eczema, can flare up during periods of heightened stress. 

The worst part is that if you don’t understand what’s causing these symptoms, it can lead to even more stress. 

Understanding these physical effects of stress can help us identify the problem and take the right steps to manage it.

Emotional Effects of Stress

In addition to its physical impact, stress can take quite a serious toll on our emotional wellbeing.

Chronic stress can lead to irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. It can make us more prone to feelings of anxiety, sadness, or anger. It's not uncommon for individuals under stress to experience sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive sleepiness. 

Recognising these emotional effects is important so that you can address the root cause and find the right coping mechanisms for you.

The Science Behind Stress and Its Effects on the Body

At a scientific level, stress triggers the release of stress hormones, primarily cortisol, from the adrenal glands. These hormones prepare the body for action by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. 

While this response is beneficial in short bursts, chronic stress can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body, leading to a wide range of health problems. Without going into the complex science of it all, understanding the basic mechanisms of stress can help us develop targeted strategies for managing and reducing its impact on our bodies.

Coping Mechanisms for Managing Stress

Thankfully, there are so many different ways to manage stress, this means that you have the opportunity to find the perfect plan for you, your body and your lifestyle. 

Engaging in regular physical exercise, such as yoga or jogging, is a great way to reduce stress levels. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness techniques can help calm the mind and promote relaxation. 

Making time for your favourite hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfilment can also help alleviate stress. 

It's important to find what works best for you personally, and slowly start introducing these coping mechanisms into your daily life.

Tips for Reducing Stress in your Daily life

Prioritise self-care:

  • Get enough sleep each night
  • Enjoy a balanced diet, Free Soul Greens offers 21 natural and nutrient-dense greens & nutritious superfoods
  • Include regular physical activity into your routine

Practice mindfulness and meditation: 

  • Introduce mindfulness practices into your daily routine to help calm the mind

Set realistic goals and boundaries:

  • Set achievable goals and objectives
  • Learn to say no when necessary to avoid overcommitting
  • Use time management tools and techniques

Take breaks: 

  • Schedule regular breaks throughout your day to rest and recharge

Spend time in nature: 

  • Connect with the outdoors by spending time in nature, whether it's going for a hike, gardening, or simply taking a stroll in the park

Cultivate a supportive network:

  • Surround yourself with friends and family who uplift and support you
  • Seek social support when needed
  • Engage in activities that promote relaxation and enjoyment

Mushroom Coffee: A Potential Ally in Stress Management

Emerging research suggests that mushroom coffee, with its unique blend of coffee and functional mushrooms, may offer benefits beyond just energy. Certain mushrooms used in these blends contain compounds that could help support the body's response to stress. 

Incorporating mushroom coffee into your routine might provide an additional layer of support in managing stress and promoting overall well-being.

Take a look at Free Soul’s very own blend of mushroom coffee - Wake.

Seeking Professional Help for Chronic Stress

While self-help strategies can be effective for managing stress, it's important to recognise when professional help may be needed. 

Chronic stress that significantly interferes with daily functioning or leads to severe physical and emotional symptoms may require intervention from a healthcare professional. Seeking therapy or counselling can provide valuable support and guidance in developing personalised strategies for managing stress. 

Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and professionals are there to help.

Understanding the Importance of Managing Stress for Overall Wellbeing

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it doesn't have to control our wellbeing. By understanding how stress impacts our bodies and introducing effective coping mechanisms, we can minimise its negative effects and promote feeling well. 

Taking care of our physical and emotional health, seeking support when needed, and making lifestyle changes that prioritise stress reduction are all essential steps in managing stress effectively. 

Remember, managing stress is a lifelong journey, and it's never too late to start taking steps towards a healthier, more balanced life.


**At Free Soul, your well-being is our priority, and although we pride ourselves on our expertise in women's health and wellbeing, it is important to acknowledge the individuality of each person. Features published by Free Soul are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease, or replace the advice of your GP. We always recommend consulting with a healthcare provider if you encounter any health concerns, and we’ll always be here to support you so you’re never alone on your journey.

Sources: - Understanding the stress response - The impact of stress on body function - Chronic stress puts your health at risk