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6 Side Effects of Stress & Anxiety (And How to Deal With Them)

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Stress and anxiety, like many other things in life, are inevitable to avoid. Despite the fact, stress and anxiety are circumstances every individual endures at one point or another—and can eventually overcome—no matter how difficult they may be.

However, the effects of stress and anxiety don’t exactly lead to the best decisions, promise good outcomes, or create the most pleasant conditions. Below, you will find six side effects of stress anxiety—and the ways to deal with them.

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1. Physical Symptoms

Perhaps, the most common effects of stress and anxiety are the physical symptoms that put a hindrance to your body. Examples include:

There are a variety of additional symptoms, but majority of the population complains about the above.

How to Deal With it

As simple as it sounds, taking a break from stressful and anxious events or tasks is the best way to approach a physical symptom.

Hydrate vicariously, since stress can cause incredible dehydration—or even cause you to forget to drink water and eat!

Pain medications can be taken to relieve headaches or upset stomachs. Most of all, putting aside the work to be done or the overwhelming emotions in exchange for a nap that lasts a few hours will do wonders to a spinning head and the health of a mind and body.

Those two things equally need a break from what life throws at them! It’s even possible to catch a cold from stress if so many things are happening at once.

2. Lack of Appetite, Sexual Desire & Insomnia

Since stressors overwhelm our emotions and body, you can count on them to affect eating habits, libido, and the amount of sleep our body gets. With your mind moving at rapid rates, worrying about the next task to complete or the emotional impact of a certain event, it is normal to skip a meal or two, refuse intimacy, and struggle to fall or stay asleep.

How to Deal With it

To handle a lack of appetite, focus on eating small but healthy meals throughout the day. You may not exactly be fueling your energy with the normal three solid meals a day, but at least you are still giving your body something to burn—in a good way!

Furthermore, sexual desire surprisingly takes an impact from stress and anxiety as well. If you have a partner, communicate openly and honestly to them about what is currently bothering you and identify the circumstances that inhibit your libido.

It’s frustrating beyond belief to have a lack of sexual desire and ability, but the feelings are only temporary. Eventually, you will find yourself reacting normally to sex again. It truly helps to have your partner understand where you’re coming and have them wholeheartedly support you. There’s also nothing to be embarrassed about!

In regards to the loss of sleep, it’s really about giving yourself a buffer of time to completely wind down before bed and finding your own ways of relaxing to ease your mind, and not necessarily fall asleep. If you fixate too much on the idea of falling asleep, most likely you won’t fall asleep—funny enough.

Instead, bring your body and mind to a state that feels utterly at peace despite the anxiety and stress that personally affects your life. Listen to music, stretch, lightly exercise, or watch something that makes you laugh.

Eventually, you will naturally find yourself tired and drift off into sleep. The desired appetite, libido, and sleep cycle won’t happen immediately, but over time you will be fine – as long as you commit to keeping your body healthy and mind at ease despite the circumstances!

3. Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Perhaps, one of the most common and unexpected side effects that occur due to stress and anxiety is the development of toxic and unhealthy behaviors, such as the aggressive consumption of alcohol or drugs, lavish behaviors, or even self-harm.

The addicting properties of alcohol or a medication numbs the negative emotions that are a result of a certain situation or event, providing a temporary sense of comfort and peace.

Lavishly spending money or throwing yourself into a discouraging activity, such as gambling, could lead to unknowingly spiraling into debt or harmful situations that cause you to act erratically.

The last unhealthy coping mechanism, is self-harm . While it should never be considered, it’s often sought after unfortunately.

How to Deal With it

In order to avoid the unhealthy coping mechanisms above, you should first recognize and acknowledge the problem that is causing your stress, regardless if you believe it is nothing of importance. Stress and anxiety, no matter how great the caliber, are always significant.

Instead of following through with the addicting and temporary relief of alcohol or drugs, turn to exercise and meditation to naturally release endorphins and center your mind.

Rather than treating money as an object to bring solace, use time to your advantage to volunteer.

In regards to self-harm, direct your attention to more positive outlets, such as creating something beautiful or artistic, spending time with friends and family, and even speaking out about what bothers you. You do not deserve to hurt yourself in any way, and should even seek professional help if necessary.

4. Procrastination

Let’s say the main cause of your stress and anxiety is a task that needs to be finished, or an event that causes a great deal of pain. Unlike the severity of an unhealthy coping mechanism, procrastination is committing an action that redirects attention and emotion into either a counter-productive or distracting event.

How to Deal With it

To deal with procrastination, you need to dive into whatever triggering situation you’re avoiding in order to overcome it. Putting on your designated battle gear and facing a problem head-on is not easy, but it is the ultimate method for getting through challenges.

Time will never be on your side if you choose to procrastinate. Ironically, avoiding a situation for longer periods of time can make it worse, and even more difficult to handle.

5. Suppression

Refusing to identify the problem, remaining in denial over what is happening and “bottling things up” are all methods of suppression.

Gradually, the weight of stress and anxiety can build up, causing you to slowly lose your mind and dive into the unhealthy coping mechanisms.

By suppressing your stress and anxiety, you are attempting to shut down all uncomfortable feelings in order to avoid it completely. Unlike procrastination, suppression can lead to never approaching a situation at all, allowing it fester and gradually increase its negative impact. In severe cases, suppression can even lead to suicidal tendencies.

How to Deal With it

As difficult as it seems, work on opening up more and letting out your emotions. You can even consider talking to a professional if you don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family about the stress you’re dealing with.

6. Deteriorating Motivation in Both Work & Hobbies

In the face of hardships, losing your motivation to finish your work or dive into the activities and hobbies you love is expected.

Stress and anxiety seriously puts a halt to your productivity and ability to relax!

How to Deal With it

With regards to approaching a lack of motivation, you cannot just wait for the “perfect moment” to start working on the task at hand. You need to power through whatever needs to be done and take things at a reasonable and consistent pace. The main idea to remember here is to remain constant with the level of effort put into what life is throwing at you. You can even try single-tasking.

The next time you experience any of these six side effects of stress, try the tips above to bounce back on your feet and cope with the stressors. It’s not an easy process, and it takes time. But in the end, it’s well worth it.

stress anxiety side effects infographic

This is a guest post from Trevor McDonald:

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.


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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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