How Stress Affects the Body

Girl Being Stressed
3 Main Types of Stress

1. Acute Stress– short-term stress that can be positive or negative. This is the most common type of stress we deal with on a daily basis. IE road rage, getting engaged, going back to school, etc.

2. Episodic Acute Stress– when acute stress seems to be a way of life. Your life is a string of one drama after another. When we think of “drama queens” or “the absent-minded professor”.

3. Chronic Stress– relentless stress that never ends and seems inescapable. IE a bad marriage, a bad job, etc.

Fight or Flight Response

When you feel stress, the body responds with it’s ancestral triggers of “fight or flight”- we either stayed and fought off the danger or we ran! This response releases chemicals in the body that help us deal with the situation- IE adrenaline and cortisol. These chemicals give us the boost of energy we need for those acute situations. However, when we have chronic stress, those same chemicals are constantly being released and can cause damage to the body. Chronic release of cortisol causes abdominal weight-gain, insomnia, and decreased immunity. Over time, the body can no longer keep up with the demands of chemical output and you get, amongst other things, adrenal burn-out. This causes body breakdown and dysfunction which will ultimately lead to disease.

Chronic Stress Conditions


  • depression
  • diabetes
  • hair loss
  • heart disease
  • hyperthyroidism
  • obesity
  • obsessive-compulsive or anxiety disorder
  • sexual dysfunction
  • tooth and gum disease
  • ulcers
  • cancer (possibly)

We know we cannot fully eliminate all stress from our lives, but what we can do is incorporate strategies to manage our stress.

  • Regular body work- massage therapy, Naprapathy, Reiki, or acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Breathing techniques
  • Visualization
  • Prayer
  • Regular exercise- walking, jogging, biking, swimming, weight lifting, etc.
  • Keeping a journal
  • Professional counseling