Some people think that stress is an exclusively mental phenomenon, whilst a healthy body is purely a factor of physical causation. But this view is misleading at best, and dangerous at worst.

The reality is that stress manifests in the mind just as it manifests physiologically. Similarly, just as the health of the body is a product of what you eat and how you use it, it’s necessarily a product of how you think and process the world—for it’s how you choose to act that impacts the health of your body.  And the short of it is that stress affects how people act.

You can think of this blog, then, as a look into the way stress prevents people from acting in a way most conducive to the maintenance of a fit, healthy body.

1.Stress Affects Your Decision Making Process

There are multiple causes of stress, and a number of key stress symptoms to be aware of. The fact that stress affects our decision making capabilities has obvious knock-on effects for the maintenance of a healthy body. It stands to reason that if you’re stressed, just getting yourself to follow through with your exercise routine could prove more of a battle than usual.

2. Stress Can Affect Your Diet

If stress affects your ability to make decisions, then it’s no surprise that your diet might suffer as a result. According to research conducted at Harvard, high stress levels affect your brain’s ability to measure how hungry you are, and also how full you are when you eat a meal.

3. Stress Negatively Influences Sleep

Quality sleep is vital for a healthy functioning body. High levels of cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) has many negative physiological influences, and contributes to many stress symptoms. Reduced ability to fall asleep, along with the ability to sleep deeply, is a product of high cortisol levels.

4. Stress Affects Your Ability to Work Out

Working out can be an excellent way to release tension. But when stress levels are too high, both mental and physical fatigue come into play, reducing your ability to get the most out of your exercise.

5. Stress Affects Recovery

Even if you make it to the gym, your body’s response to high stress will tax you of the vital resources required to repair your body at the optimal rate. This can lead to overtraining and a perpetual cycle of fatigue.

6. Stress Doesn’t Care About the Future

Cortisol release is designed to get you moving now: it’s your body’s way of preparing for anything that could happen in the present. The price we pay for this is a hefty tax to our immune system, making us more susceptible to disease, injury, and various physical conditions.

7. Stress Perpetuates Stress

A healthy body perpetuates better decisions, positive emotion, and in turn, a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, chronic stress levels contribute to many stress symptoms, many of which we’ve covered so far. These symptoms in turn function as causes of stress, and the cycle continues.

8. Stress Makes it Hard to Pay Attention

Stress affects your ability to concentrate by dominating your mental resources, but it also makes it harder to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. This can lead to detrimental decision making and overtraining—and that’s putting it nicely.

9. Stress Prevents Relaxation

Stress and relaxation are effectively opposites. And we need relaxation time to properly refresh our minds and our bodies.

10. Weight Loss and Health Risks

It is thought that raised levels of cortisol impair your body’s ability to burn fat. But this is merely a solitary effect amongst a plethora of health risks associated with raised cortisol levels, as cortisol suppresses your immune system.