What Chronic Stress Really Does To Your Body

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I have read thousands of articles about how bad stress, especially chronic stress, is for your body. However, what I never realised is what a sneaky bastard chronic stress is. You don’t wake up one day with a multitude of stress-related problems, but instead it’s like you are the frog in a pot of water that is slowly being brought to boil – well at least I was. The symptoms started so slowly and were so random that I never chalked them up to stress until I quit my job and now 6 weeks later these problems are all going away. Sure, I knew I was constantly stressed and frustrated and all the other negative things that comes from working in a toxic environment for years, but I totally underestimated the impact it had on my health.

I’ve had IBS for over 20 years. I know how this thing goes, therefore when I noticed it getting worse I thought it was something I was doing wrong. I cleaned up my diet, got rid of the foods I knew triggered my IBS but nothing really changed. My symptoms were still off the scale. I was getting through each day by taking the maximum dose of Immodium allowed. Still I didn’t put two to two together until just recently when I noticed I didn’t need a single Immodium tablet to make it through the day or even the week. My stomach was calm, except when I did something stupid like not sleep or eat something I knew I shouldn’t. I was actually shocked. Shocked that stress could make me that sick and shocked that I never even once thought my symptoms were caused by stress.

Another thing I have noticed since quitting my job is that my skin is looking better than it has in years. I’m one of these rare people whose skin is still trapped in puberty as I’m about to turn 40. I’m using both Clearasil and anti-wrinkle cream. Whilst I still have some spots, this is me we are talking about, my skin now looks healthy instead of all congested and clogged. Again nothing has changed in my diet or skin care regime, all that has changed is that I quit my job. The chronic stress has disappeared. Even my hair is looking better. I was queen of the persistent bad hair day. Nothing I did made my hair look good for more than a minute. Now, it’s good hair day almost every day.

You would think that being unemployed and, until I improve my German, pretty much unemployable would be overloading my system with stress, but it isn’t. Well, at least, nowhere near the stress levels I had whilst working in my previous work. I’m not going to lie and say that having no income is a walk in the park. But being finally free of chronic stress has lifted my mood out of the gutter that even being worried about money isn’t bringing me down to the level I used to be at.

If you have recent health problems or just not looking or feeling as good as you used to, please take note of your stress levels or the environment you work or live in. Then do something to change it. I was only in an ultra stressful and toxic environment for 2 years, but the impact it had on my health was major. I can’t imagine the state of my health if I had stayed in that job for 5 or 10 or even 20 years. I probably would have never blamed stressed for my health problems either. Remember stress is sneaky, it’s like a ninja. You don’t know that it’s stress’ fault until you are boiling alive and can’t get out of the pot.

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7 thoughts on “What Chronic Stress Really Does To Your Body

  1. I’m noticing this as well since I’ve been able to quit my job thanks to the good book deal. It’s only really been a month since I’ve been at my old day job.

    Last Sunday night I noticed I didn’t have the depression and fear about Monday mornings anymore. I don’t really have anything to stress about. I have uni work and writing to do, but it’s manageable and I’m on top of my deadlines. My mind doesn’t race in circles as much. I have time to exercise. I have time to cook and eat better as a result. I can relax and read and watch TV. I can see friends without freaking out about all the stuff I have to do outside of the day job hours. I honestly have no idea how I survived last year. At one point I was doing almost full time day job, full time masters, and somehow trying to do writing and promotion. HOW.

    I’m glad your symptoms have eased and that when you do get a new job it’s low-stress. And now if something does get stressful, that you can notice what it’s doing and take steps to take it.

    • I have no idea how you used to do it all, but I’m glad to hear that life has slowed down and gotten better for you. You are so right about the depression about Mondays. I had completely forgotten about that horrible feeling that used to come over me on Sundays. Never again!

  2. Having IBS f***ing sucks. Reducing stress was a real help but it’s the long term control that’s the hard bit!

    • You are right, having IBS does indeed suck. I’m hoping that by reducing my stress and working out my food intolerances I can achieve long term control. I know that it will flare up now & again out of nowhere, that’s the nature of IBS, but if I can have more good days than bad, I’ll be happy.

      • If there’s any advice I can give them it’s not to worry about anything you can eliminate. I’m intolerant to yeast, dairy, soy and wheat which has taken me a long time to figure out. You can react with anything! Sometimes chocolate sets me off, sometimes not. Sometimes vinegar, sometimes not. Don’t eliminate anything until you’ve tried it over a long time period :) you don’t want to be over restrictive

  3. Have you read Darm mit Charme? Basically the thesis is that if there’s something wrong with your stomach, you need to change something in your life, whether it be diet or stress. I’ve had tons of the latter in recent years and definitely notice the moment something’s not going right by the state my stomach is in. There’s a lot to the idea of a “gut feeling.”

    • It’s on my to-read list, but I’m leaving it until my German gets better so I can fully ‘digest’ it. But I agree with the theory that stomach problems are usually caused by diet and stress. I’ve been trying to investigate my dietary issues to the best of my ability but unfortunately the German medical system doesn’t make it easy. Still the stuff I have been able to work out and remove has really helped.

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