7 sneaky but harmful ways in which covid-19 stress is affecting your body

Coronavirus can affect you even if you don’t have it. Yes, the stress associated with catching this highly infectious disease can actually affect your body in ways you can’t even imagine.
The COVID-19 stress is real, and maybe, even your body is trying to tell you to deal with it better. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Sonakshi Kohli Published: 11 Jun 2020, 09:45 am IST
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The uncertainty about how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, the loss of jobs, the decrease in income, suffocation from staying indoors, the fear of catching the novel coronavirus infection, or the fear of a loved one getting infected—these are some of the probable reasons why the COVID-19 pandemic is stressing you out.

In fact, several studies have shown how the unstoppable spread of coronavirus is leading to an increase in stress levels amongst people across the world.

The story doesn’t just end at the increase of stress levels. Unfortunately, severe stress has an impact on the body and a harmful one at that. Check out some of the science-backed sneaky effects of it:

1. Firstly, stress can negatively affect your mental health
If you don’t curb your stress levels, your mental health might end up taking a severe hit. According to a study in the journal Current Neuropharmacology, chronic stress can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, and clinical depression or even aggravate such conditions in case of someone already suffering from a mental health issue. If you end up feeling anxious, depressed, or panicky for no apparent reason, maybe you should step back to analyse how to deal with it.

2. Stress can make you gain weight
According to Harvard Health Publishing, stress tends to throw your body into the fight-or-flight mode, which prompts it to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline in response. These hormones can lead to an increase in appetite. Now, if let the covid-19 stress persist for too long, the levels of these hormones will stay elevated and make you feel hungry more often. You can resist the hunger a couple of times, but we all know how the restraint breaks one day and then you tend to reach out for all kinds of junk food that is bad for your health.

3. It can mess up your menstrual cycle
A study conducted in 1999 showed how women under chronic stress ended up having a messed-up menstrual cycle—all this because of the excess production of the cortisol hormone which, in turn, affects all the other hormones in your body—including estrogen and progesterone, the two main hormones responsible for carrying out a smooth menstrual cycle.

menstrual hygeine day
Covid-19 can also lead to irregular periods. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. It can make you break out
If you’re wondering why your skin is acting up and developing acne or signs of ageing such as wrinkles, fine lines, and pigmentation—in spite you staying indoors throughout the lockdown and taking care of it, then you probably are not paying close attention to the root cause of it all. No points for guessing, we’re referring to stress.

A 2003-study conducted at Stanford University found that the cortisol hormone produced as a result of stress can activate the sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands) present in your skin and increase the production of sebum (natural oil produced by sebaceous glands to protect your skin). This can attract more dirt and clog your pores, giving you acne, pus-filled pimples, and blackheads!

5. It can make your whole body ache
Stress leads to the tightening of muscles as your muscles tend to tense up to protect themselves under stress. This leads to headaches, shoulder, and back pain.

6. It can decrease your sex drive
Having had the opportunity to spend more time with your partner due to the lockdown, you might have had dreams of spicing things up between the sheets. However, if you haven’t been feeling up to it, you have coronavirus stress to blame for it. According to a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, stress can lead to a decreased sex drive due to high cortisol levels.

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UTI from sex
Yes, it’s true. Coronavirus also has an impact on your sex drive. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Stress can lead to digestion problems as well
Several studies have shown how a rush of hormones because of stress can lead to acid reflux, heartburn, stomach ulcers, and an insulin spike (leading to diabetes). Hence, if you’ve been suffering from acidity lately, it’s probably the covid-19 stress that’s causing a stir.

How should you deal with it?
Dealing with stress by adopting a better stress-management strategy is easier said than done. However, since now you know how the covid-19 stress can affect your body, you have no choice but to succumb to this suggestion. 

US-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests the following ways to cope up with the situation without letting your stress levels skyrocket:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories (especially negative news), including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body and exercise regularly.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate to stay calm.
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do the things you enjoy.
  • Connect with your loved ones. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Coronavirus is clearly something that is going to change the world. Being stressed and paranoid about it is only normal but it is important to adapt in order to keep going on with life.

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About the Author

Twenty kilos down and struggling to maintain the weight loss by preaching healthy eating, while eating unhealthy every now and then. ...Read More

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