Stress refers to a state of mental or emotional strain caused by adverse circumstances. While everybody experiences stress, not everybody experiences it in the same way. Stress is best known for taking a toll on the mind, but sometimes physical symptoms are the body’s way of informing you that the brain is under a lot of stress.
Coping with stress can be achieved by incorporating into your daily routine such things as exercise, meditation (this one works!), staying hydrated, socializing, and eating right.
Here are 9 ways stress manifests and what you can do about it:
Stress reduces the levels of beneficial gut bacteria that govern immune modulation or immune response. Over-response could mean chronic inflammation, as seen in conditions such as heart disease, acne, and arthritis or even auto-immune conditions like lupus where the immune system essentially attacks your own body. Short-term stress can boost immunity slightly, but long-term stress suppresses the immune system leaving it unable to fight off infections.
2. Sexual Desire
According to research studies in the Journal of the International Society of Sports nutrition, chronic, ongoing stress over an extended period of time can affect the production of testosterone resulting in a decline in libido or sex drive. It may even cause erectile dysfunction or impotence as well as irregular menstrual cycles and missed periods in women. Stress can also reduce blood flow to the pelvic organs.
3. Mental Health
Stress has been linked to anger issues, brain fog, or even symptoms of depression and reduce your enthusiasm for activities that you normally enjoy, from sex to everyday hobbies. When you are under stress, you often feel like you are unable to cope. Unfortunately, that may result in difficulty in decision making, burnout, and constant worrying. You also tend to work out less and eat poorly when under stress, which only makes the symptoms worse.
Studies show that stress has a negative impact on the quantity and quality of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that having tense muscles, a busy mind, and a racing heart are all clues that anxiety and pressure could be preventing you from getting good quality sleep each night. Feeling anxious may result in an overactive mind that can make it difficult to get a good night’s rest.
The skin is one of the first body systems to be affected by stress. Stress results in the quick diversion of energy to areas considered key to survival; mostly muscle and brain for quick responses. Stressed skin suffers from less oxygenation and circulation and often takes on a dull, gray pallor. The inflammatory part of the stress response results in skin flare-ups such as acne breakouts.
6. Stomach/Digestive System
Stress can make bloating, nausea, pain, and other stomach discomfort felt more easily. It may especially affect those with digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Vomiting can occur if the stress is severe enough. Furthermore, stress can lead to an unnecessary decrease or increase in appetite.
7. Physical Pain
The body often responds with pain signals when you are under stress. This may cause any number of symptoms, which include migraines/headaches, muscle aches and tightness, as well as intestinal or bowel issues (e.g., diarrhea, constipation, gas). For some people under stress, the pain may become chronic and will have to be dealt with by taking either medication or dietary supplements.
8. Hair Loss
Stress can actually cause hair to fall out. Hormonal changes can force the hair follicles into a resting phase, thus preventing new growth. Stress can also worsen or sometimes even cause alopecia, which is a condition in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles thus causing hair to fall out. If you have a genetic propensity for hair loss, stress may trigger the process.
9. Joints and Muscles
Stress can cause muscle pain, soreness, or tightness, along with spasms of pain. It can lead to a flare-up of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other conditions since it also lowers your threshold for pain. The American Psychological Association says that your muscles tense up altogether when you experience stress.
Stress is an ever-present aspect of modern living, which means that it is impossible to escape. What you need to do is start taking note of when you are stressed, how it is manifesting in the body, and making some effort to incorporate some de-stressing activities into your daily routine such as exercise, meditation, staying hydrated, socializing, and eating right.