A Complete List of Every Terrible Thing Stress Does to Your Body

Because it's National Stress Awareness Day and everything is awful!

Hair, Face, Hairstyle, Chin, Eyebrow, Blue, Beauty, Head, Nose, Cheek,
(Image credit: Archives)

Too much stress will kill you. That is a fact as irrefutable as "a right angle is 90 degrees" or "2+2 is 4, minus 1, that's 3." But how exactly will longterm bodily and mental tension extinguish your life force? By some internal circle pit as you rage, rage against the dying of the light? Or with a sigh like the one you breathe out when a colleague asks a question they would know the answer to if they'd only read your email? Here, every excruciating effect stress has on your weak, crumply body.

It Could Make PMS Worse (Haha)

Oh, joy. Because stress is like when Ina Garten adds coffee to chocolate to intensify the flavor but evil, excess worry can exacerbate cramping, bloating, and rollercoaster emotions, according to the American Psychological Association. Yippee! Don't talk to me. Wait, come back.

It Can F—k with Your Digestion

Suffering from tummy rumbles and not being able to wear pants without the seams leaving track marks on your hips? Same. This could be because we care too much and want to do well at our jobs while balancing our personal lives and other interests, which, if extreme, could also cause ulcers or constipation/diarrhea. Just what I needed.

20 Foods You Should Eat When You're Stressed

It Messes with Your Blood Sugar

Especially bad news if you're inclined to Type 2 diabetes. This is because when you've got a deadline looming on a massive project you haven't started yet (have you heard of Stranger Things), your body produces stress hormones. Meanwhile, your liver produces more glucose to give you the energy to "fight or flight;" most people's bodies can reabsorb the blood sugar, but if you're at risk for Type 2 diabetes, this is no bueno.

It Could Make You Keel Over, Clutching Your Chest

Just like a Life Alert ad, if you're not careful and do your meditation exercises. With an increased heart rate and those damned stress hormones coursing through your body, you're putting your heart through a lot, which, over time, could increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Or high blood pressure, which ain't no joke either.


Marie Claire logo

(Image credit: Marie Claire)

It Just Hurts, Dude

Tense muscles. Headaches. A jaw clenched so tightly that really strong dude from Game of Thrones couldn't pry it open. While our bodies were built with mechanisms to cope with chaotic events and having to react quickly to them, they were not meant to be in such a state all the time. That's where chronic pain comes in.

It Could Give You (Whispers) Sex Problems

As in, "low libido."

And on Top of It All, Zits

Kind of like the vacation zit, which, now that we think about it, could just be caused by nearly missing flights and coordinating Lyfts and airport security, stress is tragic for one's complexion too. Blame it on the co co co co co cortisol again.

There Is Hope

As it is deeply unhelpful to tell a person with anxiety or depression to "cheer up" or "relax," the same goes for anyone who's ever been stressed. But remember that not all stress is bad—it can motivate you to do another practice interview with a friend that lands you a dope gig, and it could even save your life. So learn to embrace it, manage it, and reduce it. And never be afraid to ask for help.

Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at MarieClaire.com. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.