Stress is a part of life. You may think it’s just something you have to deal with. Some stress can even be beneficial, pushing to achieve more and warning you of potential problems. However, chronic stress is something that can be pretty dangerous to your health. It can play a role in your overall emotional wellness. Take a look at these five ways stress affects your everyday mood. Understanding these effects will help you to take measures to deal with your chronic stress.

1. Anxiety and Depression

One of the primary results of too much stress is anxiety. Several things play a role in overall mental health, such as genetics and lifestyle. Chronic exposure to stress can exacerbate your natural anxiety levels. That’s because scientists theorize that stress disrupts chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, which regulates mood. When your serotonin isn’t regulated, you’re prone to anxiety. Other brain chemicals like dopamine and cortisol are also affected by too much stress. Disruption in these levels can lead to depression.

2. Sleep Problems

Stress can make it incredibly difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s not unusual to experience sleep problems or insomnia during especially stressful periods in your life. If those stressful times become the norm, it can do a number on your sleep hygiene. As you probably know, poor sleep often leads to having low energy and being irritable. It also amps up your anxiety, which is what contributed to your initial sleep issues. It’s a vicious cycle that feeds upon itself. Your mood will undoubtedly be affected if you’re not sleeping well.

3. Headaches

Did you know that stress can cause headaches? If you’ve noticed that you’re experiencing more headaches than usual, increased stress levels could be to blame. A headache, even a mild one, can certainly lead to a bad mood. Severe headaches can be debilitating. If you’re feeling especially stressed, it can lower your resistance to pain, making the headache even worse. Chronic headaches are difficult to deal with. They’ve been known to contribute to increased depression as well.

4. Weight Gain

Cortisol, as mentioned above, is a brain chemical that can adversely affect mood. It can also cause the body to hold onto fat deposits around the abdominal area. Cortisol is also believed to increase cravings for sugar and fat. These things lead to weight gain. When you put on extra pounds, you may notice that you feel less energetic. This rundown feeling can do a number on your mood. Feelings of depression and overwhelm might result from an increase in weight. That’s why it’s so important to find healthier alternatives during periods of stress so that you can avoid giving in to cravings. That sugar rush or comfort might feel good in the short term, but it compounds negative emotions over time. A significant weight gain can also affect your self-esteem, causing you to feel insecure, angry, and unsatisfied.

5. Digestive Issues

Have you noticed feeling sick to your stomach during periods of high stress? That’s because one of the body’s responses to intense stress is an increase in digestive issues. Problems such as constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn are commonly associated with high stress levels, as are cramping and bloating.

Tummy troubles often cause you to feel on edge or irritable. Stress has even been shown to be connected to a medical condition known as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Symptoms of IBS include bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. This condition has been linked to depression. Lessening stress, along with some diet changes, can significantly alleviate these symptoms and improve your mood.

If you suspect your stress is to the point that it’s severely impacting your mental health, you’ll want to take action. It’s wise to talk to your physician for advice on how to deal with your stress. They can suggest activities based on your particular lifestyle and symptoms. You can also take some proactive measures on your own to help manage your stress. Learning meditation or practicing yoga can help, as can natural supplements such as MCT CBD oil. Taking control of your stress is one of the best things you can do to improve your mood and increase your overall well-being.