What Everybody Ought to Know About Too Much Stress and Your Body

What is stress? Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury, also known as the “fight-or-flight” or stress response. This can manifest as an increase in heart rate, quickened breath, muscle tightness, and rise in blood pressure. (WebMD)

Occasional stress is a part of everyone’s life. Working through and processing stressful events is key to keeping chronic stress at bay. (Healthline)

Some common effects of stress can manifest in different facets of your being. They can be physical, mental, behavioral, or mood based.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension/pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Upset stomach
  • Sleep problems
  • Low energy
  • Frequent colds/infections
  • Nervousness/shaking
  • Dry mouth/difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw/grinding teeth

Symptoms that can impact your mood include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation/focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Increased irritability/anger
  • Sadness/depression
  • Difficulty relaxing/quieting your mind
  • Low self-esteem

Behavioral symptoms include:

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often
  • Procrastination

Some cognitive symptoms include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgement
  • Pessimism

The key to managing stress is also to find active management strategies. Inactive strategies such as watching tv or scrolling social media on your phone may seem relaxing at the time but can lead to more stress in the long term. (Mayo Clinic & WebMD)

Some stress management strategies:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Practice relaxation techniques, like deep breathing exercises
  • Set aside time for hobbies
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Take breaks from the news
  • Take breaks from your devices
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Talk to a professional, either your doctor or therapist/counselor
  • Meditation
  • Avoid excess substance use
  • Building community through faith-based organization and activities (MayoClinic & Healthline)

Consequences of ongoing, chronic stress can cause or exacerbate:

  • Mental health problems – depression, anxiety, etc
  • Cardiovascular disease – heart disease, hypertension, stroke, etc
  • Obesity and other eating disorders
  • Menstrual problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin and hair problems – acne, eczema, etc
  • Gastrointestinal problems – gastritis, irritable colon, etc

Too much stress on your body can cause some serious health issues. My sister would get so stressed out she would break out in acne for weeks. One time she was so stressed she gave herself an extra period. Imagine that, being so stressed about whatever it is and giving yourself an extra period in between periods. Three periods in a two month timeframe.

Stress management is so important. It affects your health, your quality of life and can make you so miserable that it causes more stress.

Finding healthy ways to manage and to cope will help lessen the amount of stress in your life. Finding the cause and dealing with it will also lessen the amount of stress in your life.

If you are expressing high amounts of stress and any symptoms listed above, please try to utilize some of the management strategies listed above. If you still feel high amounts of stress, please seek help from a medical professional, there may be underlying medical issues that may be causing your stress.


References

Mayo Clinic
WebMD
Healthline


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Ways to Manage Stress

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