How to Handle the Effects of Stress on the Body and Mind

Updated on November 28, 2018
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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.

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

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 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.

Symptoms of Stress

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.

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!

Where does Stress, Strike?

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.

Neck pain can be a sign of stress
Neck pain can be a sign of stress | Source

1. Head & Neck

If you hide your feelings, like liking something that you actually hate, it will cause tension in the facial muscles and jaw. Therefore, 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.

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

2. Chest

You will usually feel grief and sadness in the front of your chest. Some people when they go through this experience may say that they are dying of a broken heart.

When they say this, they may concave their posture, which can nurse that wounded heart too!

3. Stomach

Illnesses are psychosomatic in the sense that the mind and body are always connected. Ulcers, gastritis and colitis are one of those 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 boyfriend left you? When that gorgeous girl stood you up and you lost your appetite?

4. Back

Your body gives vent to anger at your upper back and shoulder. Those universal complaints about lower back pain indicate that the back is one of the body’s major battlefields.

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

5. Legs

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

The tension in legs and cramps in the feet often indicate someone who will not let go of their feelings and need to protect themselves. These are signs that they are stressful.

How to Manage Stress

1. Experience Your Feelings

To illustrate how you should experience your feelings is to let go and actively grieve a departed one. Do not bottle up your feelings during bereavement. Some people come out of mourning in good health while some would not recover for some time.

If you lock your feelings away and refuse to give vent to them, your guilt will fester and make your health worse. Practice mental release of aggressive feelings or energy. It is good for your blood pressure.

2. Talk out Bad Feelings

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

Quote on Stress

“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 by any adjustment to a new or different environment. Like when you have to face life after the death of a loved one. Handling or trying to cope with childbirth or a new baby in the household. Dealing with those added financial woes or burden.

Change is stressful only if too much hit all at once. Space out any changes so that there is no excess of conflict at any one time.

Yoga is good to relax and relieve your stress level
Yoga is good to relax and relieve your stress level | Source

4. Take up Some Form of Exercise

Work your frustrations out. Regular exercise tunes up endorphin production. Endorphins are your body’s own morphine-like substance. Exercising regularly will lead to the body being able to produce more endorphins during a stressful period.

When the occasion arises, the well-exercised body will be able to produce endorphins more rapidly, indicating that the body is able to handle everyday hassles plus those that come its way.

Exercises include deep breathing, stretching and loosening of tense muscles. Try gentle yoga or Transcendental Meditation, which will help displace the tension and stiff muscles in your body.

5. Turn to Friends for Comfort and Advice

They say that a person who has a well-nourished social life and an appreciation for food and the good things in life will be more resistant to illness! Therefore, a person with inadequate social ties is like a person with nutritional deficiencies. Gosh, this sounds bad!

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

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 puff of air will help you to relax and unwind.

6. Decide to Live Life to the Fullest

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

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

You may say that it is easier said than done, but that is the truth. Get help if you cannot handle it on your own.

If you are in Charlottesville, USA, University of Virginia's, The Women's Centre, offers free and confidential counseling not just for their students and staff, but to all the residents of Charlottesville as well (both men and women).

To find similar services for an area where you live, do a search online.

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 emotion will reflect in your general well-being.

Know well, 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 stressing 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. Face the reality that you cannot do it all. Learn to say NO without feeling guilty or defensive. Set realistic limits.

Most of 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.

Practice, Practice

Now that you know more about the effects of stress 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. My favorites are inspirational songs. I love the oldies — James Taylor's 'You've Got a Friend' and Anne Murray's 'You Needed Me" are my top choices.

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.

Questions & Answers


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      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


        2 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 

        2 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 

        7 years ago from Chicagoland

        Great hub with great advice. I learned a lot.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


        7 years ago from Malaysia

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

      • Mellonyy profile image


        7 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


        7 years ago from Malaysia

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

      • CassyLu1981 profile image


        7 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


        7 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 

        7 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


        7 years ago from United States

        Fantastic hub! very well done.

      • greatstuff profile imageAUTHOR


        7 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 

        7 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


        7 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 

        7 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


        7 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 

        7 years ago from Lancashire, England

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

      • Om Paramapoonya profile image

        Om Paramapoonya 

        7 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


        7 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 

        7 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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