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10 (physical) effects of stress

What stress does to you and what most people do not know. Many people who come to me have stress-related complaints. What are they? And why is this so important? I tell this story so often, that I thought I would write a piece about it. I think many more people could benefit from this story.

What does stress do in your head?

If you suffer from stress because of a high workload or because you just work a lot of hours. Or if you suffer from stress because you have multiple roles that you all want to do equally well, such as work, the household, mother, father, husband, girlfriend, daughter, son, etc. Or because you feel you have to do all sorts of things and it is never good enough, you may suffer from stress. So it doesn't have to have anything to do with work!

Stress makes a hormone in your body. In short-term stress, it is adrenaline. For example, if you almost got into a collision, you get a rush of adrenaline. That hormone makes you flee, fight or freeze. So when you have short-term stress at work, you have this rush of adrenaline for a while, which also disappears when the stress subsides. If the stress lasts longer, and you walk around with stress in your body for months, your body starts producing another hormone: cortisol. Again, it doesn't matter whether this is due to work or a persistent stressful situation at home.

What does stress do in your body?

Cortisol is very useful for when you have inflammation in your body, as it is an anti-inflammatory. But if you don't have an inflamed toe and keep making cortisol because of stress, it can cause a lot of 'side effects'.

Namely, it makes your brain shrink. And precisely those parts around it suffer. Some examples of symptoms:

  1. It affects your (short-term) memory. You forget things, appointments, things you would do, that which you ran upstairs for, things said and told to you. Pretty tricky. You need more and more mnemonics and post-its with your To Do's.

  2. It affects your sleep centre. You may fall asleep badly or wake up way too early. As a result, you are constantly tired.

  3. It affects your hormone centre. Your period may be completely disrupted.

  4. It affects your libido. You don't really feel like doing anything anymore. So not this at all.

  5. It affects your emotion regulation. You can burst into tears over the slightest thing. Things that don't normally bother you can now throw you completely off balance. The queue at the supermarket, traffic jams on the road, a complaint or compliment.

  6. It affects your eating centre. You may then find that you don't feel hungry or thirsty. Or you don't feel if you've eaten enough.

  7. It affects your speech centre. That you can no longer get out of your words properly. That you pronounce words incorrectly. Or no longer know what the word is that goes with something.

  8. It affects your patience fuse. Where you had endless patience with your child, you can now have nothing. Or the things you liked and admired so much in your partner have now become sources of annoyance.

  9. It affects your fat-degrading hormone. This can lead to weight gain and it makes the fat stay where it is. Therefore, do not try to lose weight during this period! This is counterproductive.

  10. It affects your judgement. You can no longer see things clearly. There is no overview and you can no longer properly separate main issues from minor ones. So this is not the time to buy or put your house up for sale or to get divorced or married. I wouldn't make any major decisions right now.

If you don't bring your stress levels down, these symptoms will only get worse and eventually your body can't move on. You've used it up. Then you fall into a Full Blown Burn-Out. A fatigue you can't imagine.

You can't do anything, not go to the kitchen, not to the sofa. You can't read, can't watch TV, can't listen to a podcast, can't run an errand, can't take your child to school, can't write an email, can't make a phone call, can't walk your dog. Your energy is depleted. Your battery is more than empty, it's broken.

How to proceed next?

Our bodies are truly miraculous because all this can just recover if you make sure your cortisol levels go down again. How to do that? Read the blog about 7 Ways to reduce cortisol

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