What Does Stress Do to Your Body

What Does Stress Do to Your Body

Imagine that you have an important deadline coming up for work. You spend your days putting in all of your effort, but as the big day approaches you find yourself overwhelmed.

You know that you are stressed. You also begin to notice strange symptoms in your body. You have an uneasy feeling in your stomach. Your shoulders are tense and jaw is constantly tight.

Questions run through your mind: Could it be the stress? What does stress do your body? Will it ever go away?

It could definitely be the stress. Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle Tension and Pain
  • Chest Pain
  • Fatigue
  • A Change in Sex Drive
  • Upset Stomach
  • Sleep Problems


Headache What does Stress Do to Your Body

Stress can cause a tension headache by tightening the muscles in the neck and scalp (1).

Muscle Tension

Stress causes muscles all over your body to tense. This especially affects the shoulder and jaw muscles and breathing and postural muscles (2). It is easy to see why people often feel sore and stiff when they are stressed out.

Chest Pain

Every year, a large number of patients report chest pain that cannot be linked to heart disease or other illnesses. Researchers have found that stress often plays a significant role in their chest pain (3).


When people are stressed they tend to feel sleepy and have a difficult time with concentration (4).

Change in Sex Drive

Stress can cause changes in sex drive, even for people excellent relationships. This can manifest as low sex drive in both men and women, sexual aversion in women, vaginisimus in women, and premature ejaculation in men (5).

Upset Stomach

Stress can cause issues with your stomach. It can also exacerbate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia (6)

Sleep Problems

Stress has consistently disrupted sleep in experimental studies. Slow wave sleep, REM sleep, and sleep efficiency (SE) all decreased in these studies while awakening increased (7).

From the physical effects of alone, it is easy to see how stress can disrupt your life. If your are experiencing any

What Does Stress Do to Your Body

of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor first. Many of the symptoms of stress could also be a symptom of major health issue. For example, chest pain could be a sign of stress, but it could also be heart disease. Figuring out which one it is could save your life.

If your physical symptoms are caused by stress, I highly encourage you to take steps to overcome it. With hard work, you will eventually free yourself from these issues.

For some quick solutions that you can start doing everyday to relieve stress, be sure to check out my article about relieving stress at work.

This has some quick ten-minute exercises that you can easily do in your everyday life.

==> Click here to learn some quick ways to reduce stress from work

If you have any questions please leave a comment below. I would be happy to help!



(1) Consumer Reports (28 April 2016). “Tension Headache Treatment and Prevention”. Consumer Reports. Retrieved 25 May 2016.

(2) Westgaard, Rolf H. “Effects of Physical and Mental Stressors on Muscle Pain.” Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, vol. 25, 1999, pp. 19–24. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40967001

(3) Fagring, Annika Janson. “Stress can be the cause of unexplained chest pain.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 10 Feb. 2009. Web. 4 Aug. 2017. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/138503.php>

(4) Nordqvist, Christian. “Fatigue: Why Am I So Tired?.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 28 Sep. 2015. Web. 4 Aug. 2017. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248002.php>

(5) Bodenmann G, Ledermann T, Blattner D, Galluzzo C. Associations among everyday stress, critical life events, and sexual problems. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, July 2006.

(6) Bennett EJ, Tennant CC, Piesse C, et al.  (1998) Level of chronic life stress predicts clinical outcome in irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 43:256–261

(7) Kim, Eui-Joong, and Joel E. Dimsdale. “The Effect of Psychosocial Stress on Sleep: A Review of Polysomnographic Evidence.” Behavioral sleep medicine5.4 (2007): 256–278. PMC. Web. 5 Aug. 2017.

  1. Stress is something we all deal with in different amounts. With too much it can be really damaging. I appreciate how you can really tell that you care about those suffering from the effects of too much stress.

    I like the last section how you talked about the signs of excess stress!

    • Thanks! I care a lot. It is so important that people recognize that these issues could be from stress and if it is there are things that they can do about it.

  2. We all live with stress to some extent…some more than others. Two of the physical symptoms of stress that I have is with lack of sleep and constant headaches. This is why I do everything in my power to alleviate stress by exercising, reading, or doing other things I love to do…meditation is another great way to release stress.

  3. I thought you did a good job in making me think about the symptoms of stress. It really made me think about my own situation. Are the numbers in parentheses the number of the symptom? I loved the pictures you used, because they really depict the situation.

    • Thanks! I am glad that you liked the post. The numbers correspond to the sources at the bottom. You can get more information from these sources if you wish.

  4. Wow, this is quite eye opening. I never realized how much stress could impact you in a physical manner. It seems like a high stress job is probably far more unhealthy than all sorts of other activities we humans find ourselves doing like drinking alcohol and smoking!

    Perhaps we should encourage people to work less more than any other health recommendation!

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