4 Common Illnesses & How They're Related to STRESS

4 Common Illnesses & How They're Related to STRESS

Want to know what stress is doing to your quality of life?

You may be surprised to know that it is more than just making you irritable, or making it difficult to concentrate.

In fact, stress can be at the root of several problems that you didn’t know about. 

Skin Breakouts

Skin breakouts are often associated with that time of the month, from poor dietary choices, or from just a few too many days getting off track with eating and drinking. But what we often forget is that skin breakouts are regularly triggered by stress. Stress causes a release of cortisol in the body and this is supposed to rise and fall. When this cortisol stays high however, it changes the hormonal balance within the body, causes inflammation and makes the pH balance in the skin become imbalanced as well.  A change in skin pH, increased levels of inflammation, or alterations in hormone values can all lead to skin breakouts – with stress at the root cause. 

Low Energy

While many people think of stress as energizing them, releasing endorphins and giving them an adrenaline rush, prolonged stress can lead to depletion in the body. Maintaining a high stress response for an extended period of time is energetically demanding of the body and will lead to breakdown of immune cells, cause general fatigue and muscle soreness, as well as lead to the overall breakdown of other body cells.

Poor Digestion

Feeling like your food just sits in your stomach and is never properly digested? You might be right. And in fact, stress might be to blame. When you are stressed, your body assumes it needs to be ready to act quickly and mounts all resources to be able to activate survival mode! This is why you experience things like dilated pupils, increased heart rate and a boost in energy.  Other things are downshifted however, as they are not necessary to have happen during a stressful time. Digestion is one of these things. When your sympathetic nervous system is activated – the one that is switched on under stressful situations – it switches off digestion. This is why in periods of stress you may not really have much of an appetite, or why chronic stress can lead you to feel like you never seem to properly digest your food.


When you are stressed, your immune system is hyperactive, constantly ready to react to whatever dangerous situation you may experience and need to fight. In most cases, in modern times, our stress does not involve disease or being attacked by an animal, and we do not need continuous mobilization of our immune cells. But because our immune system is working in overdrive, it eventually is unable to keep up and our immune system becomes depleted. When that happens, our whole body becomes more vulnerable to illness and suddenly we find ourselves sick far more regularly.

No matter what your symptoms, the long term effects of stress are undesirable and can have serious consequences. Reduce your stress level to maintain your overall health. Here are 12 ways to reduce stress!

By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH  

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