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How Anxiety Affects Physical Health

How Anxiety Affects Physical Health

Anxiety can potentially impact your physical health. When you experience anxiety, there are momentary changes that are made to the mind and body. When anxiety is chronic, the impact of regular exposure to this intense feeling can alter the brain and, thus, impact your daily functions. 

Anxiety makes noticeable short- and long-term changes to the brain and body. Getting ahead of these intense physiological experiences by learning how to manage stress and challenges makes it possible to avoid any long-term health complications. 

Anxiety, the Brain, and the Body

Due to anxiety’s noticeable effects on the brain’s usual functions, it is expected that anxiety can impact the body. 

Biologically, anxiety serves to prepare our bodies for the fight-or-flight response. In moments of survival, this preparation is great and necessary for our well-being. The surge of hormones that flood our minds and bodies prepares us for the best and most effective response to our perceived threat. In nature, we ideally find a way to escape and return to safety and inner harmony. 

However, when the surge of hormones related to anxiety occurs regularly, the brain and body both start to become dysregulated. The skewed physiological experience can trigger a host of new mental and physical health challenges in an attempt to reestablish inner balance. 

By impacting specific regions of the brain and nervous system, it is understandable that anxiety can be an overwhelming experience. Fortunately, our brains and bodies are designed to withstand and overcome emotional, physical, and mental health extremes with the right care and support.

Physical Health Effects of Anxiety 

On a physical level, anxiety has short- and long-term side effects. Since anxiety has a direct and measurable impact on the brain, it is no surprise that we can see the physical effects of stress during and after the event that triggers it. 

Short-Term Effects

The short-term physical health effects of anxiety include: 

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure 
  • Rapid or uneven breathing patterns
  • Constipation or diarrhea 
  • Headaches
  • Feeling jittery

When you are experiencing anxiety, the aforementioned symptoms will help your body prepare for fight-or-flight. Due to these hormones stimulating the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which also governs basic functions like breathing, urination, and libido, the body responds to the perceived threat causing anxiety.  

Long-Term Effects

However, prolonged exposure to anxiety can eventually trigger greater issues down the line. Experiencing this nervous system dysregulation can eventually affect the overall functioning of the major systems in our bodies. 

If anxiety and stress start to become unmanageable, getting the right support for your experience will set you up for better health now and in the future. Considering the potential long-term complications that can come from chronic anxiety may help you understand the impact of such an intense physiological experience. 

The long-term physical health effects of anxiety include: 

  • Decreased immune response
  • Increased exposure to sickness, development of chronic health conditions 
  • Chronic stress and related disease 

Although stress and anxiety are slightly different, unmanaged stress can trigger and worsen anxiety symptoms. Adopting some helpful and empowering stress management techniques can help ease some of the intensity and discomfort that anxiety presents. 

How to Manage Anxiety 

By learning how to identify and manage anxiety in healthier ways, you can avoid the potential physical health risks of chronic anxiety. 

There are many impactful techniques to help you manage life’s challenges and stressors with ease. Adopting different coping mechanisms can take time, and having a strong and encouraging support network can help you deal with this learning curve. 

Here are some potential ways to deal with anxiety and improve your health:

  • Consider making lifestyle changes 
  • Talk therapy or another form of psychotherapy 
  • Medication 
  • Engage in activities that encourage mind and body harmony 

Changing Habits 

Making changes to your daily habits, such as your diet, sleep, and physical activity, can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. Establishing a more nutritious diet of whole foods, improving the quality of sleep that you get, and monitoring the type of physical activity you get each week will help bring a sense of harmony back to the mind and body. 


Talk therapy and other forms of physical or mental health therapy can help address underlying stressors and imbalances that could be making anxiety worse. Releasing pent-up thoughts and feelings in a safe environment will free up space in your mind and body for more productive and empowering experiences. 


In some instances, medication can be a great addition to a strong treatment plan. Depending on your biological needs, medical history, and personal preference, medicine can help ease the intensity of your experience with anxiety. When anxiety becomes debilitating and overwhelming enough to impact your daily life, medication can be a promising bridge to more sustainable coping skills. 

Try Something New

It can also be impactful to dive into new activities that serve to balance the mind and body. There is a wide range of activities that align the mind and body, including yoga, breathwork, art therapy, and quiet nature walks, to name a few. Many of these activities are gentle enough that they inspire you to become present in your body, increasing self-awareness and inner peace. 

With the right team and resources available to you, you can overcome anxiety and other mental health challenges that often come with being human. Our team at Mindfuli diligently works to connect you to the best mental health support within 72 hours of your initial outreach. We are committed to high-quality client and clinician relationships that fuel the potential for your recovery success. 

Chronic thoughts and feelings of anxiety can take a toll on the physical body. By producing an excess amount of stress hormones, chronic anxiety will encourage the body to express the disease. Physically, anxiety can manifest and show symptoms in the short and long term. Anxiety affects the body because it can alter our brain chemistry. Changing how our brain processes and expresses information will alter how the body will express its overall health, for better or worse. In the long term, learning how to manage anxiety and its symptoms in a healthy manner will encourage the mind and body to become more balanced. Connect with a compassionate therapist through Mindfuli at (866) 973-4415 today.

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