Negative Effects of Stress

Negative stress is having an impact on both your mental and physical health.

If you have any doubt that negative stress is rampant in our daily lives, simply do a search on Google and you will see thousands of articles on this subject. The statistical implications of stress that particularly caught my attention include the following:

  • Corporate America is taking a significant toll. Numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. Increased levels of job stress as assessed by the perception of having little control but lots of demands have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension and other disorders.1
  • Workplace stress costing employers $500 billion annually. As many as 10 percent of U.S. employees who miss work due to on-the-job stress may be absent from work for 21 days or more a month. Almost another quarter may not show up on the job due to stress for as many as 20 days a month.2
  • Stress-related health problems could be responsible for between 5 to 8 percent of annual healthcare costs in the U.S. That amounts to about $180 billion each year in healthcare expenses.3
  • Researchers at Yale University found that stress reduces the volume of grey matter in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control. So experiencing stress actually makes it more difficult to deal with future stress because it diminishes your ability to take control of the situation, manage your stress and keep things from getting out of control. A vicious cycle if there ever was one.4
  • As research on decision making shows, our brains are wired to be more reactionary under stress. This can mean that stressed-out leaders resort to binary choice-making, limiting the options available to them. In tough moments, we reach for premature conclusions rather than opening ourselves to more and better options. Faced with less familiar conditions for which our tried-and-true approaches won’t work, we reflexively counter our natural anxiety by narrowing and simplifying our options. Unfortunately, the attempt to impose certainty on the uncertain tends to oversimplify things to a black-and-white, all-or-nothing extreme.5
  • Stress is referred to as the “health epidemic of the 21st century”, according to the World Health Organization.

As the research shows,6 negative stress left unchecked can lead to one or more of the following:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Rapid aging
  • Impaired immune system
  • Digestive disorders
  • Increased body pain (headaches, back pain, etc.)
  • Mood swings
  • Drug and alcohol addiction
  • Infertility
  • Unhealthy hair, teeth and nails

If you have experienced one or more of the above frequently within the last three months, don’t risk your health any further. Your body is telling you it is time to take action before more permanent damage happens. Don’t make the same mistake I made – not dealing effectively with my stress led to stress-induced diabetes and ignoring those signs from my body for an additional 10 years resulted in a severe case of diabetic ketoacidosis – my body was eating itself alive because of my stress.

I urge you to take action today – even if it is trying one or two clever stress relief techniques. The people in your life that care for you will thank you for it!

  1. The American Institute of Stress – Workplace Stress
  2. Benefits Pro – Workplace stress costing employers $500 billion annually
  3. The Atlantic – The Alarming, Long-Term Consequences of Workplace Stress
  4. Government Executive – Stress Literally Shrinks Your Brain (How to Reverse the Damage)
  5. Harvard Business Review – Stress Leads to Bad Decisions. Here’s How to Avoid Them
  6. HealthPrep – Stress And The 10 Truths Behind The Damage It Causes