The human body reacts and adjusts to stress on a physical, mental, and emotional level. Though stress can be perceived as both a positive and negative pressure, when one is exposed to an overwhelming amount of stress, it can start to manifest in a litany of negative changes in the body.

Read on to discover strange side effects of stress and how to properly manage it with fitness programs and workouts.

How Stress Affects the Body

The body’s systems, like the respiratory and musculoskeletal system, are often affected by hormones. Cortisol, commonly referred to as the stress hormone, is usually the cause behind many of the body’s reactions to stress. Although you may not always notice stress on an emotional level, hormonal responses to stress can trigger subtle physiological changes.

Headaches and Neck Pain

Muscle pain, tension, and headaches are some of the most common side effects of constant stress. Bad posture, fatigue, and even low iron levels are also results of unmanaged stressed, causing facial and neck muscles to tense up and become painful. In these cases, one may begin noticing lack of flexibility and mobility, as well as a burning sensation that throbs in the affected area.

Change in Libido

Initially, when stressed, many men and women may feel a change in their libido. Although a boost in testosterone is proven to be an indication of coping with stress, cortisol impairs the generation of testosterone over time, which, in turn, prevents the libido from functioning properly. Subsequently, a sudden hormonal change can contribute to prostate and menstrual issues.

Sleep Deprivation

An exposure to chronic stress can cause fatigue and exhaustion, which breaks down the body’s ability to store energy and rest. Physically, stress can prevent one from comfortably going about their routine lifestyle; whether it’s walking, working, or remaining stagnant, fatigue causes typical tasks to become increasingly difficult and painful. On the contrary, stress can also inhibit mental acuity, meaning staying self-aware and focusing on being productive becomes challenging. Although many may suffer from exhaustion from time to time, chronic stress fatigue affects the body in threatening ways—insomnia, sleep deprivation, and over-exhaustion are all probable causes to dealing with an insurmountable amount of stress.

Compromised Immune System

When stress affects the immune system, cortisol is unable to stimulate the body’s natural self-response of staving off harmful viruses and bacteria. Without the ability to increase white blood cell production and fortify the body’s defense systems, stress can negatively affect the immune system, causing the body to become significantly susceptible to illness. Even for minor injuries, a compromised immune system can slow down the body’s healing process and make negligible movements, such as coughing or wheezing, painful and difficult to cope with.

Emotional Instability

Since stress can release cortisol and endorphins, combining an unproportionate mix of hormones can cause an unstable emotional response. Though many hormones are necessary in moderation, stress can trigger waves of anxiety, restlessness, depression, and irritability. Additionally, stress not only contributes to emotional instability, it can exacerbate relationships with friends and family by disregarding the needs of others and preventing proper context to social situations.

How Exercise Relieves Stress

The American Psychology Association, the Clinical Psychology Review journal, and many other scientific publications have found that stress can be managed and relieved through exercise.

Whether you prefer a mentally-driven exercise, like Tai Chi or Yoga, or you prefer a more aggressive workout, like the engaging self-defense systems at a Krav Maga Training Center, exercise reduces the tension in your body, improves sleep and self-esteem, and stimulates anti-anxiety effects within minutes.

Since stress often disrupts sleep patterns and increases irritation, exercise can remediate symptoms often associated with depression and anxiety. In several studies, exercise has been proven to reduce concentrations of ACTH, cortisol, and aldosterone in plasma. It also has a significant effect on anxiety centering around the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the brain.

The Effectiveness of Herbal Supplements

When considering how the adrenal gland is crucial to the production of hormones, it can be beneficial to boost exercise with natural herbal supplements. In conjunction with vitamin B6 and adrenal concentrate, organic supplements can help combat adrenal fatigue, promote cognitive function, and balance hormones affected by stress.

If you continue to struggle with chronic stress disorder, even after regular exercise and taking prescribed supplements, specialized wellness centers with holistic doctors can help treat your symptoms naturally and guide you through a self-healing program. Regardless of the extent of stress that you may face on a daily basis, it is crucial to implement a healthy regime to decrease how it is affecting your mind and body and prioritize on how you can sustain a happy and healthy lifestyle.