With the end of the school year quickly approaching, along with it comes the added stresses of finals. Making sure that you're keeping your mental health a priority is extremely important during these times because when you're balancing a job, homework, sleep and a social life, life can be overwhelming. Chronic stress can have detrimental effects on your health and well-being, and here are just a few examples.
We all know that when you are stressed it can be very difficult to sleep, as your brain can never seem to settle down. In general, not getting enough sleep, whether that be from an inability to sleep or staying up late to finish that project last minute, can cause a chain reaction of other health problems.
2. Weight gain or loss
When we are sleep deprived, we tend to make worse food choices which can ultimately lead to weight gain. I myself am guilty of turning to food when I am stressed and this, at one point, led to a 15-pound weight gain over the course of a month and a half. This contributed to my stress and ultimately, my entire body image. On the other hand, some people don't eat enough when they are stressed, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and is very detrimental to normal bodily function.
It's not directly linked, but scientists believe that stress can make conditions such as eczema and acne worse.
4. Suppressed immune system
When you're not sleeping enough and not eating well, your immune system cannot function at its best. This can cause you to get sick easier, and that is never fun, especially during stressful times.
5. Tight muscles
During times of stress, your muscles don't get a chance to relax. This can lead to headaches, soreness and dizziness.
6. Increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
When you are stressed, your liver releases extra glucose. When you are under chronic stress, your body cannot keep up with this surge in glucose and in turn, can increase your risks of type 2 diabetes.
7. Alcohol and drug use
Many look to alcohol and drugs as a way to relax or escape. Eventually, a dependence can develop.
8. Skipped periods
Stress can suppress the hormones that control the menstrual cycle, causing irregular or completely skipped periods.
In most cases, some stress is good for you, as it motivates your body to respond, as seen in the energy rush you get to complete that last minute project. Too much stress can cause your body's stress hormone cortisol to take over other hormones such as serotonin and dopamine and in turn, can lead to depression.
10. Digestive issues
The digestive system is highly sensitive and can respond negatively to chronic stress. Nausea can be common as well as conditions like ulcers, which are not necessarily caused by stress but can be worsened by it.
Mental health is very important to me, and I believe it should be a priority in everyone's life. I know that sometimes life can get in the way and things can happen all at once, but making sure you are taking care of yourself and listening to your body is a must. I encourage everyone to research stress and anxiety reducing exercises and to find what is best for you so that chronic stress doesn't reek havoc on your life and your body.