How Worrying Affects The Body (And What To Do About It)
Let’s be real: there are a lot of things to worry about right now. From the government, to health of our children, elderly family members, our finances, police brutality, etc…there are a lot of things we worry about.
Some worry may come and go, but more people are suffering from excessive or chronic worrying. With excessive worrying, your mind and body go into overdrive as you constantly focus on “what might happen.” Many chronic worriers share feelings of impending doom or unrealistic fears that only increase their worries. They become ultra-sensitive to their environment and to the criticism of others.
Chronic worrying can affect your daily life so much that it may interfere with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and job performance.
Sometimes, a little worry or anxiety is helpful. It can help you get ready for an upcoming situation. For instance, if you’re preparing for a job interview, a little worry or anxiety may push you to find out more about the position. Then you can present yourself more professionally to the potential employer. Worrying about a test may help you study more and be more prepared on test day.
But chronic worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. It not only affects your nerves, but it also produces real changes to your body and brain.
An automatic physiological reaction to worry and stress is called the “fight or flight” response that brings on a surge of adrenaline and sets your body on red alert. The fight or flight response causes the body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones can boost blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that can be used by the body for fuel. The hormones also cause physical reactions such as:
You may also become more prone to infections. It is widely accepted that stress and anxiety can lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to picking up colds or more serious illnesses. With excessive worry, our immune systems have little time to recover so you become even more tired and lethargic.
Loss of libido is another symptom of worrying. To have a fulfilling sex life you need to feel healthy and relaxed in body and mind. When you are worn down by worry, you are neither. Worrying can cause prolonged erectile dysfunction in men as well as lowering of libido and arousal in women.
Worry can also cause you to store fat. Stress causes an increase in the body’s level of cortisol. Cortisol is a…