How Stress Affects the Body and How to Handle it Without Medication

Updated on March 20, 2020
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Mazlan didn't think much about fitness and health before, but as age crept up on him he realized the importance of staying fit and healthy.

Body Reaction to Stress

When someone consistently irritates and bugs you with numerous requests that are, in reality, of little consequence, you will most probably burst out with an exasperated, "He's a pain in the neck!" or "He gets on my nerves!"

You may not believe this, but there is a strong connection between your emotional and physical well-being and the use of your language to express your anxiety!

Each part of your body reacts to the tension and strain on your nervous system. An ache in each part of your body indicates the state of your mind.

Stress does have strong effects on your body. So how can you deal with this stress?

What is Stress?

First, let us understand the stress.

Stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the perceived demand and the person's perception of their capability to meet that demand. After this critical imbalance, you will endure the emotional experience of stress. It is because of this that stress is commonly the culprit for almost all of our sickness. It can even lead to hypertension and injury to your body. For the elderly, it often leads to depression.

Stress - its Effects on the Body

Recognizing the symptom of stress is important but more crucial is pinpointing what triggers it.

In small doses, stress can be beneficial in personal growth but when excessive, it can be dangerous.

Symptoms of Stress

You tend to overlook the common stress symptoms. Your body will react to the pressure on the mind and will show itself through minor ailments like headaches, stomach knots, body tension, backaches, heartburn, nausea, irritability, indecision, and disorganization.

Job stress or burn-out stress syndrome can be detected by loss of energy and interest, complaint of being easily tired, a growing inability to cope with ordinary problems, a decline in personal motivation, and progressive loss in the purpose of life. That is already nearing the danger zone. Be careful!

How Stress Affects the Body

You cannot deny that your body does talk. It shows itself in different parts of your body. Mother Nature is kind and will always give you an advance warning before any serious attack.

Where are these chronic aches and pains? What situations arouse them? Locate the source of these aches, perhaps we can get rid of them fast, without resorting to popping pills, snorting cocaine or drowning in liquor.

1. Head & Neck

If you hide your feelings, like pretending to like something, it will cause tension in the facial muscles and jaw. Your forced smile is actually a grimace or a scowl. It can over a long period develop into severe pain.

A stiff neck shows that bodily feelings are all bunched-up and difficult to channel to other parts of the body. That's stress and its effects on your body.

A thorough massage is a good remedy. Soothers include exercising and deep breathing. These act as distracting activities and will release some of the pent-up feelings and stress.

2. Chest

When you are grieving or in sadness, that feeling is in your chest. When they go through this experience, some people may say they have a broken heart.

When they say this, they may concave their posture. This act can in fact nurse the wounded heart.

How do you handle stress?
How do you handle stress? | Source

3. Stomach

Illnesses are psychosomatic in the sense that the mind and body are always connected. Ulcers, gastritis, and colitis are some of the illnesses triggered by mental stress. When you have butterflies in your stomach, or that knot or pit, it all comes from fear and anxiety. Feelings of distress have a close link with the digestive system.

Do you remember the time when you gorged yourself silly trying to console yourself because your loved one left you? Or when that gorgeous girl or boy stood you up and you lost your appetite? That's stress and its effects on your body.

4. Back

When you are angry, that pain affects your upper back and shoulder. The universal complaint about back pain indicates that the back is one of the body’s major battlefields.

It is the area where feelings of responsibility and guilt will flow downwards and meet the upward pushy feelings of self-control and stability. That is where the trouble starts.

5. Legs

A person who is in control of his or her feelings usually stands firm and stable. The way a person uses the legs for support can show how well grounded or stable they are. Nervous people tend to shift their stance often and suffer from cold and clammy hands and feet.

The tension and cramps in the legs indicate someone who will not let go of their feelings. These are signs of stress and its effects on the body.

How to Manage Stress Without Medication

1. Experience Your Feelings

Let's say that someone had passed away and you are grieving over this loss. To overcome this sadness, you should experience your feelings by letting go and actively grieve the departed one. Do not bottle up your feelings.

If you lock your feelings away and refuse to vent it out, your guilt will fester. The stress's effects on the body will slowly affect your health. So, practice the mental release of aggressive feelings or energy. It is also good for your blood pressure.

2. Talk Out Bad Feelings

If you harbor bad feelings with anyone, it is good to deal with the situation openly. Show your willingness to solve the problem. Prevent needless discord at home or workplace. Nearly 75% of cardiac problems happen after a major family crisis.

You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.

— Steve Maraboli, in Life, the Truth, and Being Free

3. Avoid Making Too Many Changes at Once

Stress can happen when there are changes in your current situation. Like when you lose your job. Or trying to cope with childbirth or having a new baby in the household. So you have to deal with this new added financial woes or burden.

Change is stressful only if too much hit all at once.

Can you space out any changes in your life? Try to avoid having excess conflicts at any one time.

4. Take up Some Form of Exercise

Endorphins are your body’s own morphine-like substance that helps you relax. Regular exercise will build up your endorphin production and also helps the body produce more endorphins during a stressful period. So work-out your frustrations.

Simple exercises like deep breathing and stretching can help loosen tense muscles. Or you can try gentle yoga or Transcendental Meditation which helps displace the tension and stiff muscles in your body.

5. Turn to Friends for Comfort and Advice

Someone who has a well-nourished social life and an appreciation of food and the good things in life is more resistant to illness. A person with inadequate social ties is like a person with nutritional deficiencies.

Do not let stress and its effects hurt your body.

Turn to your friends for comfort and advice as it will at least let off some of your anger and stress levels.

6. Decide to Live Life to the Fullest

Whatever situation you are in, you must develop a strong reason and will for living.

To avoid stress-related diseases you must develop and have a fighter’s instinct to stay healthy and alive.

If you cannot handle it on your own, get help. You can do a search online for centres that offer free and confidential counseling.

7. To Get Rid of Aches and Pains, You Have to Harmonize and Adjust Your Thoughts and Feelings

Distortion of any grievances will bring about tension and anger. Harmony in your emotions will reflect in your general well-being.

Understand your feelings and reason out why you feel that way. If necessary, write it down on a piece of paper. Then you can pinpoint the source of your illness. Cultivate the habit of positive thoughts. Learn the love secret of Understand and Care.

Young Americans are the Most Stressed

Based on the report from the American Psychological Association, jobs and money are key issues that stress young Americans (18-33 years old) today.

They are also the most stressed among the American population.

8. Change Your Attitude and Approach Towards Stressful Situations

Do not be caught unaware. Learn to say NO without feeling guilty or defensive. Set realistic limits. Face the reality that you cannot do all.

Learn to take things easy. If anything goes wrong, it will. So keep asking yourself. ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ The answer is Death, right? Well… it will surely catch up with you one day anyway. Let nature charts its course. Perhaps you can live longer if you do not overdo yourselves.

Quick Ways to Relieve Stress

Try the following quick and simple stress relievers

  • Make Face: Tightly squeeze every part of your facial muscle for 20 seconds or more, then release. Repeat several times to benefit from this simple stress buster exercise. The alternate contraction and relaxation of the facial muscle will ease the tension
  • Breathe In: Lick your lip to wet it then inhale and blow out slowly through your mouth. Repeat several times. This sensation of a cool air puff helps you relax and unwind.

Practice, Practice

Now that you know more on stress and its effects on the body, you will probably say, "That's a load off my back!"

Practice what you have learned, and you will be on your way to good health.

You can also listen to your favorite music to relax and relieve that stress level.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Mazlan


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    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi, Deborah Demander. Thanks for the compliment. Yes, stress is the number one killer and we must recognize the signals our body is telling us before it is too late.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander Reno 

      3 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Great article, with lots of helpful information. Stress is the cause of most of our chronic illnesses, but we don't look for it until it's too late.

      Thanks for writing.


    • ercramer36 profile image

      Eric Cramer 

      8 years ago from Chicagoland

      Great hub with great advice. I learned a lot.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Malaysia

      @Mellonyy Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Thanks also for the share.

    • Mellonyy profile image


      8 years ago

      How to reduce stress is one of the most important things we have to resolve nowadays. Great expose and writing skills. Shared.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Malaysia

      @CassyLu1981 I am glad you find the tips useful. Thanks for the vote and the share.

    • CassyLu1981 profile image


      8 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      I suffer from a "more then normal" amount of stress. I've learned how to handle it for the most part. As long as I have a positive attitude I can normally get through it fine. But when it hits me and I'm not expecting it, it hits me hard! Next time I need it I will be using some of your managing techniques for sure! Thanks for the great writing! Voted up and shared!!!

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Malaysia

      @Riverfish24 and @jpcmc Thanks so much to both of you, for stopping by and commenting and sharing.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      8 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Physical impact of stress is one area of great concern. the emotional and social impact are likewise important. Decreasing stress in any way possible can help a person gain better health and better relationships.

    • Riverfish24 profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Fantastic hub! very well done.

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Malaysia

      @krsharp05, You are right, the stomach issues and migraine are stress related and can be a pain! Thanks for visiting, commenting and sharing.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      greatstuff, this is wonderful! I agree with you that often times stress is a physical feeling. For me, stress causes a great deal of stomach issues and migraines. It took a long time to understand that it was stress causing those issues. You offer excellent ideas for dealing with stress and the videos are sweet. Thanks for sharing. -K

    • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Malaysia

      Thanks to all of you for stopping by and commenting!

      @billybuc , @Om @gsidley @meloncauli, I am pleased that you found this info helpful. And to @dinkan53 & @teaches12345 I'm glad you also like the video

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      Stress affects people more than they know. It does manifest itself in different and interesting parts of the body, like the legs. Great suggestions for dealing with stress. Thanks for posting Taylor's song, it's one of my favorites and I played it through.

    • meloncauli profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      Enjoyed reading your hub. Any physical illness always feels much worse when stressed too. Pain is more painful when stressed out!

    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 

      8 years ago from Lancashire, England

      A well-written hub full of sensible advice. Rated useful.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      8 years ago

      Great hub. I know many people (including myself actually!) who tend to overeat when they are stressed out. And yeah, I agree we should take the bull by the horns and try to resolve whatever causes our stress, rather than using food as an emotional crutch.

    • dinkan53 profile image


      8 years ago from India

      Stress is a contributing factor to literally almost every illness. I think the number one cause of stress is the thinking about the future. I like this article and the suggestions to manage stress. Enjoyed the videos too. Rated up and useful.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great hub; very informative and needs to be read by many. Stress is the silent killer for sure.


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