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Surprising Facts About Stress

The way stress impacts our bodies, brains and lives is scary and astounding. But the great news is that stress is 100% controllable which means you have total reign over how it will play out in your life. It’s up to you if stress becomes a negative element that holds you back from happiness or a motivating driver to push you ahead with your goals. One of my fave guest writers, Sarah Landrum of Punched Clocks, shares a whole bunch of surprising facts about stress you might not have known before. Now it’s up to you to decide what you’ll do about it! Enjoy!

Surprising Facts About Stress

By Sarah Landrum – Guest Writer 

stress on bodyEveryone feels a little stress now and then, however prolonged stress can affect you in a number of ways. It can often manifest physically within the body or even in changes to your everyday behavior.

Here are some surprising facts as to how stress can affect areas of your life, as well as helpful tips for overcoming how it’s affecting you!

It Can Reduce Bleeding

  • Stress reduces bleeding by triggering blood vessels to close. In fact, the term stress means to draw tight. (Source)
  • Stress makes blood thicker to prepare for injury, which can also lead to a blood clot. (Source)

Stress Dilates Pupils

  • Stress causes pupils to dilate the same way attraction does. This is to gather more information about a potentially harmful situation. (Source)

Stress Can Be Expensive

  • Stress costs American businesses as much as $300 billion in health costs and missed work. (Source)
  • Stress-related problems can account for as much as 8% of total health care costs for businesses. (Source)

Libido Levels and Sexual Reproduction Are Affected

  • Stress may account for 30% of all infertility problems; it lowers the sperm count and mobility in men and causes women to have trouble conceiving. (Source)
  • While stress can cause erectile dysfunction and decreased libido, people who experience frequent penetrative sex (rather than masturbation) are found to have decreased stress hormones. (Source)

Stress Can Be Painful

  • When you are feeling a great deal of stress, it often manifests physically. Stress can take many forms including aches, pains and tense muscles, clenched jaw and difficulty swallowing, and even upset stomach. (Source)
  • As many as 77% of people coping with high stress levels experience physical symptoms. (Source)

It has an Unusual Association to Suicide

  • A 2003 study found that women with moderate levels of stress, as opposed to extremely high (or extremely low) levels of stress were less likely to commit suicide. (Source)

Chronic Stress Can Lead To Addiction

  • When persons under stress abuse drugs, the dopamine released in the pleasure/reward center of the brain can make persons feel they are successfully “coping” with their stress. (Source)
  • Although stress doesn’t cause addiction, chronic stress can lead to an intense desire to abuse drugs and alcohol and acts as a trigger for addicts. (Source)

Stress Negatively Impacts Childhood Growth and Development

  • Childhood development and growth may be inhibited by chronic stress; continuous stress lowers the amount of growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland. (Source)
  • The brains of children that experience post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, suffer changes to the brain, specifically the area of the brain responsible for memory development. (Source)

Stress Can Cause Hair Loss

  • Significant emotional stress can eventually lead to hair loss. (Source)
  • There really is a condition that makes you want to pull your hair out due to stress; it’s known as trichotillomania. (Source)

Stress Lowers Productivity

  • Employees who are highly stressed are up to 10% less productive than their co-workers. (Source)
  • A survey by the Global Benefits Attitudes organization found that high stress can lead workers to increasingly mentally disengage from their work and workplace environment. (Source)

Your Personal Relationships May Suffer

  • Stress is a common cause of arguments; 54% admitted that stress has caused them to fight with a loved one. (Source)

Your Sleep Patterns Can Be Disrupted By Stress

  • Stress is a main factor in insomnia and other sleep disorders; it heightens the body’s response system and leads to wakefulness. (Source)
  • 48% report lying awake because of stress (Source)

Your Skin Is More Prone To Breakouts

  • A 2003 Stanford University study found that college students were more likely to experience bad acne before an important exam. (Source)
  • Research suggests that stress-related inflammation is to blame for this type of breakouts. (Source)

Stress Weakens the Body’s Ability to Defend Itself

  • Stress weakens the ability of the body to keep toxins, viruses, and other harmful substances from penetrating the blood/brain barrier. (Source)
  • It’s harder for the body to fight off the common cold when it is under stress. (Source)

Weight Gain Can Be Caused by Stress

  • The stress hormone cortisol can cause the body’s fat cells to accumulate and increase in size. (Source)

There are Serious Psychological Symptoms of Stress

  • Stress can actually contribute to depression; when cells shrink because of stress hormones, they separate from each other. (Source)
  • 73% experience psychological symptoms caused by stress on a regular basis (Source)

Stress Can Outright KILL You

  • Stress is often called the silent killer as it is linked to the top causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver. (Source)


The good news is, there are plenty of ways to relieve stress. Some of them are just as surprising as the effects of stress itself. 

orange juiceChewing Gum Can Alleviate Stress

  • Chewing gum eases the jaw and stress and the Ancient Mayans and Greeks chewed on resin gum, too! (Source)

Orange Juice Can Help

  • OJ packs a serious punch of Vitamin C, which psychologically reduces stress by decreasing stress hormone levels like cortisol. (Source)

Pets Reduce Stress

  • Among the many benefits of owning a pet, lowered stress is one of the best. (Source)

Chocolate is Good, Too

  • In addition to being rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate reduces stress hormones. (Source)

Attitude Matters

  • You can relieve stress simply by thinking of stress relief.
  • The wrong attitude can increase stress even more, and those who are perfectionists, pessimists, or “type A” have certain thought and behavior patterns that bring on even more stress. (Source)

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

  • Laughing decreases levels of cortisol, adrenaline, and epinephrine which aggravate stress AND it releases dopamine which acts as a feel-good hormone. (Source)

There are numerous sources of stress, either work-related or in one’s private life. Coping tools should always help to alleviate you of your emotional burden, not make the problem worse. Seek positive, uplifting solutions which will help you to proactively manage your stress and survive a stressful workday.

sarah landrumAbout the Author: Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site for those looking to grow their careers. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success, she shares advice on everything from career development and leadership, to health and fitness, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum