Ever Journey

Why So Stressed?

“Calmness is the cradle of power.”
—Josiah Gilbert Holland

What is stressing you out the most during these uncertain times?

  • Is it your job?
  • Is it your family?
  • Is it Your health?
  • Is it Money?
  • Is it the economy?
  • Is it Covid19?
  • Is it the state of our world?

I must confess, I am very stressed… and I am so sure you are too!

We all know that stress is a part of daily life and is becoming more of a presence in this increasingly ever-changing and high paced world; especially during these challenging and uncertain times that we face. Our world, has changed considerably since Dec 2019 when the virus made its way from Wuhan to the rest of the world and the truth is we as humans are .. stressed.

There are all sorts of negative physical and psychological effects of leading an overly-stressed life , and now more than ever is it important to take care of ourselves and actively manage our stress levels to live a more harmonious life.

In this article, I offer the scientifically proven effects of stress and how it affects our lives.

What is stress?

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can stem from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, freighted, angry, or nervous.

Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid impending danger,  or meet a tight deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.1

How does stress harms our nervous system ?

The effects of stress on the nervous system have been investigated for 50 years (Thierry et al., 1968)2. Some studies have shown that stress has many effects on the human nervous system and can cause structural changes in different parts of the brain (Lupien et al., 2009)3.

Stress on our immune system ?

Stress effects our sympathetic nervous system response. Your body’s fight-or-flight mechanism is a natural, life-saving system that’s highly efficient and effective when you have to use your muscles quickly. However, the stress of modern life can cause it to short circuit. If you’re under constant stress, rather than short-lived or occasional stress, the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, triggers an alarm that stays on, 4which can lead to devastating effects on your entire body’s inartistic & holistic ‘mechanical’ system.

Stress & the negative effects on the brain?

Stress can literality kill off brain cells , and even reduce the size of the brain. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.5

How can stress make my brain smaller?

Chronic stress can lead to atrophy of the brain mass and decrease its weight (Sarahian et al., 2014)6. These structural changes bring about differences in the response to stress, cognition and memory (Lupien et al., 20097).

What is stress negative effects on the body?

Studies have found many health problems related to stress. Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma8.

Stress and our moods?

Stress affects our Mood, cognition and behaviour. It is well established that chronic stress can lead to depression. It is also a recurrent condition – people who have experienced depression are at risk for future bouts of depression, particularly brought up under stress.

There is also evidence of chronic stress effects on hormones in the brain, including cortisol and corticotropin releasing factor (CRF). High, prolonged levels of cortisol have been associated with mood disorders- as well as mentioned , the shrinkage of the hippocampus. It can also cause many physical problems, including irregular menstrual cycles in woman9.

Stress and our stomachs ?

Roughly 25 percent of people say stress gives them an upset stomach or indigestion, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Stress can affect this brain-gut communication. Prolonged anxiety slows digestion as your nervous system directs its energy toward the organs and muscles most critical to survival. This, in turn, can cause nausea, constipation, cramping, and bloating and in some cases trigger gastro-related diseases. 10

Good Stress?

Good stress, or what psychologists refer to as “eustress,” is the type of stress we feel when we are excited. Our pulse quickens and our hormones surge, but there is no threat or fear.11 

For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.12

According to Daniela Kaufer is an associate professor at UC Berkeley , who studies the biology of stress, Manageable stress increases alertness and performance. And by encouraging the growth of stem cells that become brain cells, stress improves memory.13

Long term effects of chronic stress

A study showed that people who experienced “multiple childhood traumatic stressors” are at higher risk of premature death than people who did not (Brown et al., 2009)14.

Another study has shown that high levels of stress in early childhood or adolescence are associated with negative health outcomes in adulthood (Farrell et al., 2017)15. Traumatic events (in childhood or otherwise) are associated with increased long-term risk for cardiovascular disease (Cohen et al., 2007)16.

Know Your Stressors and Avoid Creating Stress for Others

Know what is causing you stress in your life, a simple tool we can use in NLP we can identify where you need to make immediate changes in your life to get you where you need to be and live more harmoniously , a lot of the time we become accustomed to ‘how things are’, not realising that we have the power to change how things ‘should be’.

Not to say stress is not good; stress is a motivator for change, knowing how to balance your stress responses and to keep yourself in check – whilst being happy & healthy – and experiencing the right balance & dosage of stress while watching for your health & wellbeing.

Causing stress for others?

Be a little caring towards others , and watch your communication. Try to see other’s point of view. If you need help with communication during these times I have published an eBook on the topic of effective communication. (Click here and I will send it to you for free , no strings attached)

How can we use the pandemic to re-align and check in with ourselves?

Some tips to limit and manage stress , especially while still being fresh in January, we can start making some habits to control our stress levels and use it to our advantage ( based on an article in the Mental Health Foundation of the UK):

  • Breathwork. Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress levels in the body.
  • Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
  • Eat healthily Eating healthily can reduce the risks of diet-related diseases17
  • Be aware of smoking and drinking alcohol Even though they may seem to reduce tension initially, this is misleading as they often make problems worse18
  • Exercise Even just going out and getting some fresh air, and taking some light physical exercise, like going for a walk to the shops can really help19
  • Take time out Tell yourself that it is okay to prioritise self-care and take time for yourself.
  • Be mindful Research has suggested that it can reduce the effects of stress, anxiety and related problems such as insomnia, poor concentration and low moods, in some people20
  • Get some restful sleep Are you finding you are struggling to sleep? This is a common problem when you’re stressed21.  Limit distractions and all electronics an hour before you go to bed. Make the environment habitable for sleep and have a routine to help you get more relaxed before sleeping, like reading a book , having a bath…etc
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself If you stumble or feel you have failed, don’t beat yourself up , we are all on a unique journey. Be kind to yourself and others.

May you be less stressed in 2021 ,

Be calm, Be healthy & be safe, 

Tamara Al-Halaseh


  1. Medline Plus, Stress & your Health Link: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003211.htm#:~:text=Stress%20is%20a%20feeling%20of,danger%20or%20meet%20a%20deadline.
  2. Thierry A-M, Javoy F, Glowinski J, Kety SS. Effects of stress on the metabolism of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin in the central nervous system of the rat. I. Modifications of norepinephrine turnover. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1968;163:163–171
  3. Lupien SJ, McEwen BS, Gunnar MR, Heim C. Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009;10:434–445.
  4. Health Line, What is a stress related illness link https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-stress-related-illness#nervous-system-response
  5. Touro University , the mind and Mental health how stress affects the brain. Link:  https://www.tuw.edu/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/#:~:text=Stress%20can%20kill%20brain%20cells,responsible%20for%20memory%20and%20learning.
  6. Sarahian N, Sahraei H, Zardooz H, Alibeik H, Sadeghi B. Effect of memantine administration within the nucleus accumbens on changes in weight and volume of the brain and adrenal gland during chronic stress in female mice. Modares J Med Sci: Pathobiology. 2014;17:71–82.
  7. Lupien SJ, McEwen BS, Gunnar MR, Heim C. Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009;10:434–445
  8. WebMed, 10 Health Problems Related to Stress That You Can Fix. Link: https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/10-fixable-stress-related-health-problems#1
  9. The Conversation. How chronic stress changes the brain – and what you can do to reverse the damage. Link: https://theconversation.com/how-chronic-stress-changes-the-brain-and-what-you-can-do-to-reverse-the-damage-133194)  
  10. American Psychology Association, Stress Effects on the Body Link: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress/effects-gastrointestinal
  11. Very well mind, When Stress is Actually good for you. Link: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-kind-of-stress-is-good-for-you-3145055
  12. Health line, The effects of stress on your body Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body#2
  13. Greater Good Magazine, The surprising benefits of stress Link: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_surprising_benefits_of_stress
  14. Farrell, A.K., Simpson, J.A., Carlson, E.A., Englund, M.M., Sung, S. (2017). The Impact of Stress at Different Life Stages on Physical Health and the Buffering Effects of Maternal Sensitivity. Health Psychology, 36(1), 35-44. doi:10.1037/hea0000424
  15. Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., Miller, G.E. (2007). Psychological stress and disease. JAMA-Journal of the American Medical Association, 298(14), 1685-1687. doi:10.1001/jama.298.14.1685
  16. Amine, E. et al. (2002). “Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases: report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation”.  World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Available at: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/trs916/download/en/ [Accessed on 24/11/15].
  17. Mental Health Foundation (2006). “Cheers Report.” Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/cheers-understanding-relati… [Accessed 22/11/16]
  18. Penedo, F.J. & Dahn, J.R. (2005). Exercise and well-being: a review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 18 (2), 189–193.
  19. Greeson, J.M. (2008). Mindfulness research update: 2008. Complementary Health Practice Review 14,10–8.
  20. Mental Health Foundation (2011). “Sleep Matters: The impact of sleep on health and well-being.” Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/sleep-report [Accessed on 22/11/16].