Stress is a normal part of life. However, your body isn’t designed to handle too much stress. Here are some signs that may indicate that your body is begging for help.
Shutterstock: Roman Samborskyi
Stress is a normal body response to demands and challenges. In fact, did you know that stress can be beneficial in some potentially dangerous situations since it puts you in fight or flight mode by boosting your focus and physical readiness to face a situation? This response is caused when hormones are released by the brain in response to stress.
However, our bodies are only equipped to handle a limited amount of stress. Your body might be giving you clues that you’re overworked if your stress response keeps firing multiple times every day whenever you find difficulty dealing with work or fulfilling family obligations such as caregiving for a child or an elderly parent.
Chronic stress can lead to emotional, physical and behavioural effects. You might be thinking that you can handle some stress but is your body suggesting otherwise? Today, we’ll discuss the stress-related physical signs that may be your body’s way of crying out for help.
Headaches and muscle pain
When your body is stressed, your muscles tense up. This is a defensive reflex to aid your muscles in protecting you from injury. However, chronic stress causes unnecessary tension in your muscles and keeps them on standby. This can result in unpleasant symptoms such as headaches that are associated with the continuous muscle tension in your head, neck and upper body.
Chronic stress has also been linked to other muscle disorders. One study concluded that in older people, hormones released during stress can cause a decline in muscle strength which increases their susceptibility to falls and fractures. Meditation and relaxation techniques are methods to ease up your muscle tension. This reduced tension can lower the chance of getting any stress-related disorders.
Hair and skin issues
Stress can have a big impact on how you look. Have you noticed a correlation between stress and your acne breakouts? That's right, stress releases cortisol, a hormone that makes your skin more oily and prone to skin problems. Stress can also fire up skin problems like eczema, skin rashes and psoriasis, potentially affecting your self-confidence.
That's not just it. Your hair won't be happy too. In fact, stress can lead to hair loss. You might notice an increase in hair fall whenever you comb or wash your hair. The good thing is that stress-related hair loss is usually reversible!
Stress can also badly upset your digestive tract. Starting from your esophagus, stress can cause heartburn, stomach discomfort, bloating and nausea along with a change in appetite which can effectuate eating disorders. As you approach the bowel, stress disturbs your friendly gut bacteria which aids in digestion. Stress can also disrupt the flow of food which can lead to either diarrhea or constipation.
Reproductive health problems
As for reproductive health, stress can lead to a wide range of effects. High levels of stress can lead to:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- More painful periods
- Loss of libido
- Worse premenstrual syndrome symptoms (cramping, bloating and mood swings)
- Worse physical menopausal symptoms (more severe hot flashes)
To add to all this, stress can even negatively affect your chances of having a baby!
Coping with stress
Don't forget that stress is also associated with a plethora of other factors including mental health. Getting stress under control can be achieved through exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, having a healthy social life and meditating. If your body is experiencing any stress-related symptoms then take the hint and start an effective stress management plan today!