An Australian personal trainer has revealed what really happens to your body when you are stressed and the common warning signs to slow down.
Rachael Attard, from Sydney, said there are many things that can contribute to your constant feeling of stress – from being overworked to dealing with discrimination, relationship turmoil, or even emotional trauma.
But while a little stress can be good for triggering our ‘fight or flight response’, repeated long-term stress is never beneficial, and it can lead to everything from weight gain to digestive problems, heart problems and a weakened immune system.
“The effects of stress can have a serious impact on your life,” Rachael wrote of her website
The PT has outlined the signs that something is wrong and what to do about it.
An Australian personal trainer has revealed what really happens to your body when you are stressed, and the common warning signs that you should slow down (Rachael Attard in the photo)
Rachael Attard, from Sydney, said there are many things that can contribute to your constant feeling of stress – and almost all of them have bad effects on your body (stock image)
How do you know if you are stressed?
The most important thing you can do when you think you are stressed is to find out the signs of your stress in the first place:
“These can vary from person to person and can change over time based on the situation you are experiencing,” Rachael said.
However, there are some early symptoms that are more common than others.
These early signs include fatigue or exhaustion, restlessness, wandering thoughts, irrational irritability, headaches, and difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
Rachael explained that these signs of stress are often just the precursors of worse long-term effects.
“While most people experience short-term stress, some also experience long-term stress symptoms,” Rachael said.
These symptoms include gastrointestinal problems, chronic insomnia, menstrual problems, chronic depression, lack of focus, disorganization, low energy, and weight gain among a host of others.
The first thing that strikes you when you’re under constant pressure, both in your professional and personal life, is that you’re putting on pounds, Rachael (pictured) explained.
1. Weight gain
The first thing that strikes you when you are under constant pressure, in both your professional and personal life, is that you are putting on pounds.
“Cortisol may be the stress hormone that makes it easier for you to respond productively to stressful situations,” explains Rachael.
‘But that’s only in the short term. If you let it build up over time, that cortisol can stimulate your body to store fat. ‘
If cortisol is present in your body, the PT said your blood sugar levels will naturally rise to give you a much-needed sugar boost.
This makes it difficult to burn calories and you will eventually start storing fat.
2. Digestive problems
If you are stressed, you may also notice digestive problems.
These problems can include diarrhea, constipation, nausea, stomach pain and bloating.
Rachael said you should also watch out for heartburn and acid reflux as these, too, could be an indication that something is wrong.
‘The effects of stress can have a serious impact on your life,’ explained Rachael (pictured) – but there are ways to manage your stress level
3. Breathing problems
While it may sound far-fetched, the PT said being stressed can even impact your breathing.
This is because the tension and nerves cause your muscles to constantly tighten and relax.
Stress often causes something like asthma. If you had it when you were a child and suddenly have a flare-up, the PT said you may want to see your primary care physician.
What is stress and how does it work in the body?
* Stress is a situation that provokes a certain biological reaction. When you perceive a threat or a major challenge, chemicals and hormones flow through your body.
* Stress triggers your fight-or-flight response to fight or run from the stressor. Usually your body needs to relax after the reaction has occurred.
* Too much constant stress can negatively affect your health in the long term.
* Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s what helped our hunter-gatherer ancestors survive, and it’s just as important in today’s world. It can be healthy if it helps you avoid an accident, meet a tight deadline, or keep you in chaos.
* But stress must be temporary. Once you’ve passed the fight-or-flight moment, your heart rate and breathing should slow and your muscles should relax. In a short time, your body should return to its natural state with no lasting negative effects.
* As the main stress hormone, cortisol plays an essential role in stressful situations. Features include:
– increase in the amount of glucose in your bloodstream
– help the brain use glucose more effectively
– increasing the accessibility of substances that aid in tissue repair
– limiting functions that are not essential in a life-threatening situation
– changing immune system response
– damping of the reproductive system and growth process
– affecting parts of the brain that control fear, motivation and mood
When you’re stressed, your muscles are often tense because you’re worried about something, Rachael (pictured) explained – and this can cause muscle pain and stiffness.
When you are stressed, your muscles are often tense because you are worried about something.
Over time, this leads to severe aches and pains, and can eventually limit your movement.
5. Weakened immune system
Constantly sick and expired?
Rachael said that when you’re stressed, your body’s normal response to viruses and bacteria won’t be as powerful as it usually is, meaning you run the risk of getting sick more often and staying sick longer.
“This is because all those resources that your body would normally have used to get rid of illness are currently working to get you out of your stressed state,” she said.
6. Heart problems
Finally, stress can even lead to problems with your heart, adding to the severity of heart disease, especially if you have problems in your family history.
The best ways to reduce your stress include getting regular exercise, getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and making sure you eat a healthy diet, the PT (pictured) said.
How can you best deal with stress?
While it can be difficult to get yourself out of chronic stress, there are certain time-tested tactics that can help.
1. Get more exercise
One of the best things you can do when you’re struggling with stress is get plenty – and possibly more than enough – exercise.
Rachael recommends establishing a routine that you can really stick to each week.
‘You don’t have to go crazy. Just keep moving. Do yoga on your days off or just take a long walk around the block if you’re dealing with racing thoughts, ‘she said.
It’s more important to be consistent than to go hard one day and the next.
2. Prioritize sleep
The second thing you can do to lower your stress level is to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
Create a sleep schedule again disconnecting your phone and other blue light before going to bed, and make sure to rest for at least 30 minutes before turning the light off.
Rachael also recommends going to bed and getting up loosely at the same time every day to get your body used to a habit.
While easier said than done, a healthy diet can go a long way in limiting your stress levels.
“Throw out the processed ingredients and eat a diet full of whole grains, lean proteins, vitamins, fruits and fresh vegetables,” Rachael said.
“These foods are full of nutrients you need to combat stress and maintain your health.”
Find ways to relax
Rachael manages her own stress by doing something relaxing every day.
Whether it’s reading a book, practicing gratitude, or watching your favorite TV show, do something that will relax you.
5. Work with a professional
If nothing else works and you still feel stressed, the PT said you may need to see a professional.
Find a therapist you are comfortable with and then investigate the reasons why you are stressed.
Finally, if you can, Rachael said you should try not to let your stress overwhelm you.
“The sooner you start finding ways to feel better, the easier it will be to see improvements,” she said.
Visit her website for more information about Rachael Attard here