Like it or not, but stress is inevitable. Trying to balance your career, schooling, friends, family, and health can be overwhelming. Throw unexpected occurrences like illness, failures, crises, and deadlines into the ring, and you’ve set yourself up for the perfect storm. Most of us are aware of the obvious drawbacks of stress like breakouts and poor quality sleep. However, stress can negatively impact our lives sneaky, unexpected ways.
1. Decreased Immune Function
Your immune system is made up of two types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. B Cells produce antibodies that destroy viruses and bacteria that enter your body. T cells lock on to infected cells, multiply, then destroy it. When we are stressed, the immune system takes a huge blow. Its ability to fight off antigens is reduced and leads to being more susceptible to infections. Corticosteroid (a stress hormone) also lowers the effectiveness the immune system.
2. Negative Impacts on Relationships
Studies show that relationships are worse off when individuals are under stress. More stress outside the home is correlated with feeling less satisfied in relationships. When people feel stressed but fail to get adequate support, they feel isolated and ignored.
3. Impairs Memory
When cortisol (a stress hormone) levels are raised for long periods of time it decreases brain cells. The cortisol kills cells in one’s hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for memory). This causes impaired memory.
4. Weight Gain
Cortisol strikes again! When cortisol levels are high, insulin levels are high as well. This causes blood sugar to drop and causes you to crave foods high in fat and sugar. There’s a reason why they call them comfort foods! Large amounts of fat and sugar = weight gain.
Feeling the negative effects of stress? Try stress-relievers such as:
- guided imagery
- talking to a friend
- playing with your pets
Written by GUADS staff member Angelina with contributions from simplypsychology.org, http://www.youramazingbrain.org, greatergood.berkely.edu,webmd.com