Physical Stress Effects On The Body

stress effects on the body

Our bodies are well equipped to handle acute doses of stress, but it results in various stress effects on the body when it becomes chronic or long-lasting.  Learn some of the common ways stress creeps into the body and what you can do to help your child build their stress-busting toolbox.

What causes stress on the body

Stress is anything a person perceives to be a threat. It is an external threat, such as a big test or speech coming up. Once the danger goes away, so does the stress. 

Stress can be useful, but too much of it can lead to anxiety and feel uncomfortable in your body (increased heart-rate, tight or tense muscles, a nervous tummy, or you might even get sweaty, hot, or shaky).

Examples of what causes stress in kids:
  • lots of activities (overscheduled)
  • too much homework
  • striving for good grades
  • siblings
  • tests/school projects
  • arguing with friends
  • too much work
  • parent’s stress
  • afterschool sports/activities
  • pleasing everyone
  • not enough downtime

Besides these common triggers, kids and families struggle to cope with the many disruptions and fears the pandemic has caused.

According to the American Psychological Association, Americans have been profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  “Americans are struggling to cope with the disruptions it has caused. Nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their life.”

These compounding stressors have real consequences on our physical and emotional wellbeing. 

Although this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the more common ways stress manifests in the body. 

5 Physical Stress Effects on the Body
effects of stress on the body
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Do any of these resonate with you or your child?
  • Muscle Tension or Pain (jaw clenching or grinding)
  • Low Energy/Fatigue
  • Stomach or digestive issues
  • Sleep problems
  • Frequent colds or infections

There are many more signs and symptoms of stress on the body, so it helps to become aware of how your body holds stress so that you can develop the tools to manage it safely and effectively.

How Parents Can Support Their Children

There are many healthy ways to handle life’s stressors.  The first step is to help your kids discover their kryptonite to manage excess stress in their bodies.

Here are a few tips to help get started:

➡ Teach them how to break the stress cycle through low and slow diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing)

➡ Listen and acknowledge their concerns and worries

➡ Model and practice self-care each day 

➡ Keep things into perspective and focus on the good things (“3 Good Things”)

➡ Build a coping toolbox to help kids manage stress and anxiety



coping skill for kids

Stress will invariably follow us through life, so the sooner we give kids the tools to handle it, the better. As adults, we’re all well-aware of stress’s effects on the body. Let’s give our kids the tools they need to skip this step of adulthood by helping them manage and even prevent stress.

How to prevent stress:

  • good nutrition
  • learn positive problem solving and coping skills
  • foster close, supportive relationships
  • establish routines and boundaries
  • permission to make mistakes
  • consistent, positive discipline
  • ability to identify, label and express feelings appropriately
  • feeling physically and emotionally safe
  • time to have fun and enjoy life
Discover Additional Stress-Relief Resources
stress effects on the body

If you are looking for more resources to help identify and reduce the physical effects of stress on the body, you can check out my resources page here. 

For additional help, learn about online therapy at

Together we can help your child become more calm, connected, and resilient.

Thanks for reading,

🧡 Stephanie Esser | Owner at Balancing Elephants | BE Buddy® (watch video)

P.S. A gift for you!  Help your kids breathe well to BE well with our one-of-a-kind mindful breathing pillow.  Head to our shop and get $5 off  + FREE shipping your order.  use code “BLOG5OFF” at checkout. 


stephanie esser breathing coach at balancing elephants
MA.Ed., Certified BREATHE™ Coach, RYT200, Yoga Calm® Youth Instructor I help kids surf the waves of life, one breath at a time!