We all know that stress can be bad for our health, but many of us aren’t aware of how harmful it can be to the women in our lives. Stress has several negative effects on the body, and if you’re a woman, these effects are stronger than they are on men. While women can face more physical health problems as a result of stress, there are also plenty of mental effects that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unhappy with your life.
If you’re wondering how stress affects women differently, take a look at this article to learn more about the real impact of stress on women’s bodies, as well as how to reduce your stress levels to improve your quality of life over time.
Stress and Its Causes
Stress is a state that arises from an imbalance between what we have to deal with and how well we can manage to cope. It’s one thing if you’re just under stress at work, but if it’s causing problems in your family life or your relationship with your partner, it might be time to take a hard look at what you can do to remedy that imbalance. A daily yoga routine is one option. Meditation could also help. If you haven’t tried either exercise before, there are plenty of resources online for beginners. If a medical condition is affecting your ability to handle day-to-day stressors effectively, it might be worth getting some counseling.
Effects of Stress
The first thing most people think about when stress is mentioned is that it might make you fat. Many studies suggest that even if stress doesn’t cause weight gain directly, it could be a factor in why some people pack on pounds and others don’t. Research has shown that high levels of chronic stress have been linked to abdominal obesity-the kind that forms around your waist and midsection-as well as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes in women.
Studies show that women who suffer from severe anxiety or stress are more likely to become obese. It is mostly due to cortisol, a hormone released when we experience fear or high levels of stress. The thing is stress and anxiety cause leptin resistance-which means your body doesn’t register that you’re full, even if you just ate a meal. As a result, it prompts people to eat much more than they normally would at any given time.
Research has shown that high stress can affect a woman’s heart health, raising her blood pressure and risk for coronary artery disease. Research also shows that stress can make existing heart problems worse. When you’re under too much stress, your body releases a flood of hormones called catecholamines that are made from adrenaline, which stimulates your fight-or-flight response.
This hormonal cascade raises your heart rate and constricts your arteries to prime you for action-but it’s hard to stay in fight or flight mode when there is no immediate danger. Over time, these changes in hormone levels put you at greater risk for cardiovascular complications including stroke or hypertension.
Nerves are what cause bowels to move and when you’re stressed it can cause your intestines to become compromised. One way stress impacts digestion is through intestinal permeability, which is a fancy way of saying leaky gut syndrome. If your gut becomes more permeable, undigested food particles will seep into your bloodstream, which may lead to a host of other health problems. Consult your doctor to know what can be done to treat abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and gas during stressful periods in life.
When you’re under a lot of stress, your body begins to break down both emotionally and physically. One unexpected consequence is hair loss. If your hair is thinning, it could be a sign that you need to give yourself some time to relax and do something fun. There are over-the-counter remedies such as a hair loss conditioner with argan oil that can help with shedding.
You should also make sure you get enough sleep-stress interrupts restful sleep patterns and alters hormone levels, which affect hair growth. If balding continues after these fixes, it might be worth checking in with your doctor or seeing a dermatologist for treatment options. Rest assured that when it comes to solving hair loss problems, there are options out there!
The hormonal fluctuations that come with stress can cause a wide range of menstrual problems, including heavy or painful periods. Chronic stress also has been linked to menstrual irregularities and an increased risk for endometriosis. More than 70 percent of women who suffer from endometriosis report that their symptoms are made worse by stressful situations. If you have fibroids or other reproductive health issues, such as ovarian cysts or infertility, being stressed out may make your symptoms worse.
The body responds to stress in several ways. And, as you can see from the descriptions above, it can have devastating effects. But there are ways to mitigate and fight back against stress before it has a chance to negatively impact your health and well-being-whether that’s through mind-body techniques like meditation or just making small changes to your day-to-day routine. Find what works for you.