Stress is our body’s response to pressure.
We all go through varying degrees of stress throughout our lives, with some experiencing longer and more severe periods of it.
A person’s ability to cope with stress depends on a number of factors such as genetics, early life events, personality and their social and economic circumstances.
Stress is known to cause a number of damaging effects on the body, including increasing disease risk, weight gain and hair loss.
Health conditions said to be increased by too much stress include heart disease, asthma, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems and Alzheimer’s disease.
How stress affects your weight
Cortisol is our main stress hormone, which helps the body regulate its response to any kind of stress, whether it’s physiological, emotional or traumatic.
Cortisol also stimulates a person’s fat and carbohydrate metabolism, which creates a surge of energy in the body.
Although needed for survival purposes, having too much cortisol in the body is known to increase a person’s appetite, thereby affecting their weight.
Additionally, having elevated cortisol levels increases cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods.
Symptoms of high or low cortisol
Signs you have too much cortisol in the body include:
High blood sugar
Purple stretch marks
Low cortisol symptoms are:
Low blood sugar
Low blood pressure
How stress affects your hair
Undergoing an immense amount of stress is known to affect a person’s hair.
“Serious stress can send hair into a resting phase, skipping the stage that coaxes it to grow,” says WebMD.
The health site added: “It may put you at higher risk for a condition called alopecia areata, where your own immune system attacks your hair follicles.
“It could also lead to trichotillomania, a strong urge to pull out your hair.”
Occasionally a person’s hair may grow back when stress is reduced.
How to lower your stress levels
Follow a regular sleep routine every night to increase your chances of getting enough deep sleep.
You can also:
Do cardiovascular and strength training exercise on a regular basis
Bring stress down with a practice such as daily mindfulness meditation and/or deep breathing exercises
Reduce caffeine intake as much as possible
Maintain an active social life filled with healthy hobbies and relationships.