Stress is a natural response to external threats and everyday problems. Under normal conditions, it keeps you alert and boosts your natural survival mechanisms. Feeling stressed while driving, for example, could save your life. Too much stress, on the other hand, can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Anxiety, depression, brain fog, lethargy, and decreased mental focus are just a few of its side effects.
No-one is immune to stress. In fact, a third of business professionals in Australia are feeling stressed, depressed, and anxious. According to Business Insider, stress-related depression is responsible for over 96,235 hours of lost productivity each year.
Unless you live on a deserted island, you’ve probably heard about the dangers of a stressful lifestyle. Heart disease, hypertension, weight gain, and sleep disorders are all common complaints in today’s society. But what about your mental health? How does stress affect your brain? Let’s find out!
Stress and depression go hand in hand. When you’re stressed, your brain experiences cognitive changes. You become irritable and moody, have a hard time sleeping at night, and find it difficult to stay focused. At the same time, your ability to handle stress declines.
Over time, these changes trigger depression and worsen its symptoms. You may find yourself spending more and more time at home, skipping your workouts, and avoiding your friends. None of these things helps; on the contrary, they fuel your depression.
Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of stress. Research shows that at least 30 percent of teens experience at least one depressive episode. Approximately 50 to 70 percent are struggling with anxiety and hyperactivity disorders. Most times, stress is the culprit.
In 2016 I was suffering from a lot of stress and putting my body under a lot of stress by not doing the correct things for my body type (see here for further information). This led to an imbalance in my body and eventually I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. However what caused this was my MTHFR SNP being activated on………something which had been good and under control for 40 years ! In fact I wasn’t even aware I had any issues with this. I will shortly be writing more about this topic as it is very dear to my heart. But in summary, my point here is that stress can cause a reaction in our body that can ‘switch on’ our not so healthy genes that we are born with.
Affects Your Motivation
According to science, chronic or prolonged stress has profound effects on decision-making and motivated behavior. It interferes with the release of dopamine, serotonin, and other brain chemicals that regulate your mood. If left unaddressed, it may cause changes in the brain’s structure, leading to severe mental illnesses.
Lack of motivation is a common side effect. Let’s look at an example of someone who has lost their job. They keep wondering what went wrong and why it happened to them. They keep going over and over it in their head to work out what they did to deserve this. They feel that their life will never be the same. They keep thinking about it all, blame themselves, and feel like nothing makes sense anymore.
Gradually, they lose their motivation to find a new job. The bills pile up, which further triggers stress. It’s a vicious circle that can destroy their life.
Reduces Your Productivity
The higher your stress levels, the lower your productivity and work performance. According to a survey conducted on 22,347 employees, half of those experiencing a lot of stress reported low engagement rates.
Heavy workload, bullying in the workplace, and financial problems are leading causes of stress for most employees. When you’re constantly worried, you cannot perform at your best. Your thoughts are wandering, keeping you from doing your job.
Even if you’re a self-employed or an entrepreneur, you can still experience stress. After all, it’s not easy to deal with clients, address their concerns, and keep everyone happy.
Fuels Addictive Behaviors
Are you drinking more than usual? Do you feel the urge to eat 24/7? Maybe you’ve started to smoke years after quitting? Stress can be blamed for all this !
This lifestyle factor fuels addictive behaviors. It plays a major role in alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, and more. When you’re stressed, your willpower decreases. You have less control over yourself and your surroundings. Under these circumstances, it’s easy to develop addictions in an attempt to cope with your feelings.
Remember, it’s in your power to beat stress. Don’t allow it to ruin your life! You have full control over your feelings and emotions. Take the steps needed to eliminate the stressors around you and regain your energy!
Look out for the next blog in the stress series – coming soon.
Read all about ‘How Does Stress Affect Your Body’ here
If you require help with your stress levels, contact me today for an obligation free chat to see how my coaching can help.