How Chronic Stress Affects our Entire Health


November, 2021

What is Stress? What are the different types of Stress?

Stress, in essence, is when the body’s demands are higher than it’s resources.

We have two states of our nervous system: Sympathetic & Parasympathetic branches. Our Sympathetic is the “Fight or Flight” side & ParaSympathetic is the “Rest & Digest” side. We fluctuate between both states throughout the day.

The Sympathetic branch (Fight or Flight) activates hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These ramp up heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar etc. as it is prepared for “attack mode”. In primal time, this was when we needed to run away from animals (think “danger mindset”).

The Parasympathetic branch is the calm & relaxed state, where your body needs to be for: recovery, rest, digestion, reproduction & more. Hormones are produced, food is absorbed, & healing all happen here.

Image of a woman exercising at home on a yoga mat

Stress, in essence, is when the body’s demands are higher than it’s resources.

Stress in all its forms, puts us in a Sympathetic state. Short term, this is needed and ideal, because it allows us to react to the new demand. However, chronic levels of stress can build up if not addressed and will affect one’s health.

Stress can be: physical, mental/emotional & environmental/chemical.

Poor diet: processed foods, fake ingredients, GMO foods, sugars & vegetable oils, conventional meats etc
Pesticides & Herbicides (from foods but also cleaning supplies)
Conventional self care, skincare, beauty AND cleaning products
Heavy Metals (water supply, vaccines)
Chemicals through work exposure, air supply, pollution

Injuries (acute or chronic)
Repetitive motions as during work
Poor posture (Text neck, kyphosis etc)
Excessive exercise or NO exercise
Infection, major illness, surgery
Any health condition, autoimmune disease etc.

Poor/toxic relationships
Lack of social connection and/or isolation
Death of loved one
Divorce or Separation
Poor self esteem & confidence
Negative work environment
Perfectionist mindset

Image of a woman exercising at home on a yoga mat

Sudden change in life: job loss, new family member, fertility issues, financial issues, debt

“Positive” stressors: pregnancy, childbirth, engagement, wedding, travel, new job, going to school etc.

The effects of stress can manifest in many different ways. Each person is so unique in how their body shows symptoms of stress.


Each person is so unique in how their body shows symptoms of stress.

Acute Effects: 
Muscle ache, low energy, fatigue
Joint pain/aches
Poor posture (shoulders elevated/rounded forward)
Shallow breathing
Increased Heart rate & blood pressure
Lack of concentration, brain fog
Restlessness: “wired but tired”

More chronic, long term & dangerous effects:
Insomnia & sleeping problems
Mood swings & disorders: irritability, Panic attacks, anxiety, depression, bipolar episodes
Increased emotional sensitivity
Decrease or Increase in blood pressure
Sensory Overload: unable to cope with noises, lights, social situations etc.
Lack of motivation or “Zest for Life”
Depressed immune system; Frequent sickness or inability to recover from illness
Always sore, tired, never recovered from exercise
High Cravings for Sugar & salt
Food Sensitivities
Inability to lose weight
Weight loss
Weight gain, especially around midsection
Digestive issues: nausea, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, reflux etc.
Decreased libido & sex hormones
Irregular or missing cycles
Increased gut permeability (leaky gut)
Thyroid and/or adrenaline dysfunction

As you can see, stress affects the entire body. I have unfortunately experienced almost every symptom listed above in the last few years. However, I have learned what stresses me the most (lack of consistent schedule, waking up before 6am, trying to do too much, poor food, lack of sleep) and how stress manifests for me (poor digestion, low energy, anxiety). Learning about your own stress triggers is crucial to avoid chronic stress and the negative consequences associated.


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