Can Stress make you Sick?

We live in a time that is very chaotic and busy. So many of us are dealing with insane levels of stress trying to cope with it all. But could stress make you sick?

can stress make you sick

Recently I was faced with this very question. You see, 2019 wasn’t a great year health wise for me. And yet, as a busy mom and wife I thought eventually it would take care of itself. No time to slow down, no time to be sick. Just keep going. You know, what all of us women are told to do.

But, as an autoimmune disease sufferer (colitis) I should have known better. And it continually got worse, to the point that I couldn’t sleep at night because I was no longer sure I was just dealing with an autoimmune disease but that it could be something worse. The fear was keeping me up at night. Colitis can have the same symptoms as colon cancer and so after approaching a year without resolving the symptoms it was hard to not let my mind wander.

3 months ago I finally realized it wasn’t going to get better on it’s own and that I needed to go get checked out.  I went to not only my doctor, but a naturopath as well, and then also to a specialist. And that began many tests, medications, and my journey to better health.

Along the way it was pointed out to me by my health professionals that chronic stress has a way of making you sick and that it was definitely plausible to believe that it had contributed to my health trainwreck with things that I had been dealing with over a long period of time.

And that got me really thinking. We often don’t consider the effect of chronic stress on our health. So, when we get sick we definitely don’t initially think we need to deal with our stress level to help us get better.

But too much stress can suppress our immune system and if you are dealing with a lot of stress over a prolonged period of time it can increase your risk of many various diseases.

I truly believe that most sicknesses can be made worse if we are dealing with too much emotionally. Stress does not necessarily cause sicknesses ( though I believe in some cases it can) but it definitely doesn’t help us heal, and it for sure can make it worse.

So, today I want to share with you some of the things I have been doing to manage my stress level to contribute to an improvement of my health so that maybe you are inspired and encouraged to start working towards managing your stress level to improve your own health.

And can I say that it is working? I am about three months into the journey (though the first month was a lot of trial and error and mostly on the error side) and I am finally seeing positive results. And, while I said above that I started to worry that I was dealing with something worse than my autoimmune disease, I’m happy say this week we were able to rule any of that out and are continuing to move forward with a positive treatment plan.  I am confident that before I know it I will be back to full health. 🙂


Scale back on commitments outside the home.

If part of your stress is coming from too much on your plate, it’s time to scale back. This may just be needed for a time, or indefinitely.

I know it can be hard to say no, and the fear of letting people down can be great, but you are no good to anyone if you are only functioning at 50%. People may not understand, but that’s okay.  Work on getting better, and then in another season of your life you may be able to give more to the people around you.

Limit your time around draining situations.

There are people and situations in our lives that are lifegiving, and then there are ones that are the opposite. I think it’s probably safe to say we’ve all experienced it. While you may not be able to completely eliminate those situations in your life, you can limit the time you give to them.

If there are situations where you know your anxiety is going to rise or that will particularly drain you and add to your stress level, have a plan. Decide how you are going to replenish your “cup” afterwards. Something that will help reduce stress, and give you a sense of peace. It can be some time to yourself, hanging with a friend who is encouraging, going for a walk out in nature – whatever it is that will lift your soul.

And it’s okay to take a break from those situations for a time.

Take care of your body.

When we are stressed out we are more likely to reach for things like sugar and carbs – all that food that comforts us. The problem with that is it can contribute to raising your insulin levels which in turn can raise your cortisol levels. Raised cortisol levels contribute to our lack of being able to handle stress and anxiety.

So, make sure you are fueling your body with good food. Try and get your body moving as well. I will often walk on my treadmill for 30 minutes. While I’d love to do more, I know that is what I can fit into my life right now. There are days where I feel so busy that I consider skipping the treadmill, but I have since come to the conclusion that it needs to be a priority to help me manage stress and for my overall health.

Cut back on what you are doing INSIDE the home.

This was something I had to come to terms with this past year. We wanted more animals on the homestead but decided it was best to wait until I was better (and we are getting to that point so stayed tuned to see what new animal pops up over here.) I also had to be okay with making the family simple meals on days I was just feeling too rough. Some projects over here just need to wait.

Because I am only ONE person and I have to be okay with not being able to do everything here. For everything there is a season and just because I can’t do those things right now doesn’t mean they will never happen.


For me, I am a christian and so prayer and reading the Bible is really important to me when it comes to managing stress. I have recently been memorizing scriptures with my kids and recently at a particular nerve-wracking doctor’s appointment I continued to recite verses in my head. It helped keep me calm and reminded myself that God was with me when I was struggling.

Realize you can’t please everyone.

So many of us struggle when people are mad at us. Here’s the thing – there’s absolutely NO WAY you can please everyone. There’s absolutely NO WAY everyone is going to like you. And you know what? We need to be okay with that.

We need to learn to brush it off and move forward from it instead of dwelling over it and feeling guilty over it. Sure, if we did something wrong then that is different, but often we feel false guilt because we want everyone to always be happy with us. It just will never happen. So we need to learn to let that go and not hang on to it because it just adds to our stress level.

Realize you can’t control everything.

This, for moms is a hard one I think. We want to take care of the people we love. So we worry. We stress. But the truth of the matter is we just can’t control everything. Kids will get hurt, physically and emotionally. Appliances and cars will break and cost you money. Unexpected bills will come.

Trials in our lives are constant. We don’t just finish a rough patch in our life and that’s it, it’s smooth sailing for the rest of our lives. It isn’t some “due” we paid and now we get our big break.

This was a big realization for me recently. (I know, it took 36 years to figure this one out.) Things are going to happen and we can’t control it. All we can do is deal with it as it comes. Stressing about it constantly won’t make it better – it will just add to our stress level. (Also, know that I’m totally talking to myself here!)


When you ride an airplane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask before you put one on your child. That is because if you pass out you can’t help anyone else. It’s the same with your health. You can coast on “okay” health for quite a long time. But eventually it catches up to you. You want to be able to deal with it before it gets to that point.

Stress is unavoidable in this life. But we can lessen it’s effects if we learn to manage it a little better.

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