Anxiety Can Make You Physically Sick But There Are Ways To Make Sure It Doesn’t Get To That Point
When youâre in the heat of an anxiety attack, or hunched over in pain because whateverâs going on upstairs is wreaking total havoc over your insides, it can often feel like thereâs nothing you can do to feel better. Sometimes you donât even realize your anxiety is that big of a deal until after the thing you’re stressing about actually happens, and all of a sudden youâre nauseous or dizzy from an emotional build-up. “It’s like when you get sick on your vacation because you can finally let go,”Michael Alcee, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Tarrytown, New York, tells Elite Daily. “People sometimes try to over-manage or compartmentalize their anxiety that after the stressful event is over, they finally allow themselves to crash.”
Traci Stein, PhD, MPH, a clinical psychologist and professor at Columbia University, adds that people who are especially anxious are generally self-critical, to the point where anything â past mistakes, perceived failures, what other people are thinking â often pile up and come crashing down. In order to soften the blow, she says, your first order of business has to be to practice self-compassion. “Self-compassion basically translates to being in the present moment in a non-judgmental way practicing self-kindness, and recognizing that you are human, just like everyone else,” Stein tells Elite Daily. “No one is perfect, and you donât need to be either.”
Your Tummy Is Just Off
Stress can disrupt the function of your GI tract in more than one way. It can cause the body to produce more digestive acid, leading to heartburn. “It can also slow the emptying of food from the stomach, which causes gas and bloating, and may even increase the number of times your colon contracts, leading to cramping and diarrhea,” Deborah Rhodes, MD, a Mayo Clinic internal medicine physician, told Parents.com. Here are common stomach pains and what they really mean.
What to do: Take an over-the-counter antacid. Or, try drinking ginger tea, or one of these other medicine-free stomachache remedies.
Improving Your Ability To Handle Stress
Get moving. Upping your activity level is one tactic you can employ right now to help relieve stress and start to feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully .
Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when youre feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who improve your mood and dont let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you dont have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
Engage your senses. Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your sensessight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
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The Link Between Stress And Illness
The critical factor associated with stress is its chronic effect over time. Chronic stressors include daily hassles, frustration of traffic jams, work overload, financial difficulties, marital arguments or family problems. There are, of course, many more things that can cause stress, but these are the stressors commonly encountered in daily life. The pent-up anger we hold inside ourselves toward any of these situations, or the guilt and resentment we hold toward others and ourselves, all produce the same effects on the hypothalamus. Instead of discharging this stress, however, we hold it inside where its effects become cumulative.
What To Do If Youre Experiencing Tension Headaches:
- Apply a cold compress or a heating pad to your head. Either hot or cold temperatures can help alleviate symptoms.
- Rub your hairline and temples with peppermint essential oil or tiger balm. Both have been found to be comparable treatment to medications like aspirin.
- Consider working with a therapist who specializes in biofeedback and/or relaxation techniques.Both of these approaches have been found to reduce frequency and intensity of tension headaches. Therapists who specialize in the physical manifestations of mindset or chronic illnesses are trained to help clients listen more to their bodies, decipher their bodies signs, and prioritize comfort.
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How To Manage Stress And Feel Better
Stress can leave you feeling physically crummy. But there are lots of effective ways to keep those negative feelings in check so they dont run amok and wreak havoc on your body.
The key is finding a stress buster that fits in your lifestyle so you can make it a regular thing and keep your stress from getting out of control in the first place.
Some helpful habits that are worth trying:
- Eat healthy foods that leave you feeling good.
- Make time to connect with the people you care about.
- Seek out things that make you laugh.
- Practice yoga or meditation.
Anxiety Can Cause Feelings Of Illness
The stress from anxiety can cause feelings of genuine sickness. These feelings are often very similar to the way physical illnesses make you feel. Your stomach can feel like it’s rumbling and you may even feel nauseated. Feeling sick may be a sign that you’ve fallen ill, but it can also be a sign of anxiety.
While feeling sick may be the only physical symptom of anxiety, there are often others including breathlessness, dizziness and fatigue.
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You Break Out In Hives
If you’re suddenly covered in itchy red bumps, stress might be to blame. When your body experiences excessive stress your immune system gets wonky and your body starts releasing the chemical histamine to fight off your ailment. If the stress doesn’t go away, you essentially develop an allergic reaction and, boom, hives galore. When your immune system is weakened by stress, your skin can also become irritated by things it never used to be sensitive to, such as soap, cold or heat, lotions, or laundry detergent.
What to do: Put a cool, damp towel on the affected area. if that doesn’t work, take an antihistamine.
Wish you had more time to relax and de-stress your brain? Try these super-simple, totally healthy de-stressing activities.
How Much Stress Is Too Much
Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, its important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is too much differs from person to person. Some people seem to be able to roll with lifes punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle.
Factors that influence your stress tolerance level include:
Your support network. A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. When you have people you can count on, lifes pressures dont seem as overwhelming. On the flip side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.
Your sense of control. If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, its easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your lifethat youre at the mercy of your environment and circumstancesstress is more likely to knock you off course.
Your attitude and outlook. The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If youre generally hopeful and optimistic, youll be less vulnerable. Stress-hardy people tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humor, believe in a higher purpose, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.
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Your Hair Is Falling Out
Losing a few strands of hair is normal , but stress can disrupt that cycle. Significant stress pushes a large number of hair follicles into what’s called a resting phase, and then a few months later those hairs fall out, according to MayoClinic.org. Stress can also cause the bodys immune system to attack your hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Here’s what your hair is trying to tell you about your health.
What to do: Be patient. Once your stress level returns to normal, your hair should start growing back. Here are some more possible reasons your hair is falling out.
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How To Manage Stress
Keeping your stress in check and well-managed is the key to emotional and physical well-being. Find the ones that best work for you and your lifestyle.
- Physical activities such as cycling, walking, and jogging can help relieve physical tension and stress.
- Yoga and tai chi can help relax your mind and body.
- Meditation, mindfulness techniques, as well as deep breathing, can help decrease stress.
- Paying attention to the factors of your life that cause you stress and eliminating or delegating them can decrease your stress levels.
- Connecting with friends and loved ones can help lower stress.
Over time, with consistency, your stress levels will decrease and your symptoms can improve. If youre still experiencing stress and feeling sick, consult with a mental health professional and your doctor for assistance.
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Seek Help If Your Anxiety Or Related Pain Is Uncontrollable
Anxiety may be a natural reaction to threat, but when it simply doesnt go away or turns into an anxiety disorder, it impacts the well-being of our whole body.
If youre struggling with anxiety, reach out for help. Your mind and body will thank you.
Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.
Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.
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Nausea Heartburn Indigestion Upset Stomach Diarrhea
Can stress make you nauseous? You bet and thats not all. It can also cause bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and even vomiting. Fun, right?
The stress hormones that activate your fight or flight response can cause muscle spasms in your GI tract, which can leave you feeling queasy or send you running to the bathroom. They can also slow the rate at which food is digested, which can cause uncomfortable gas to build up and make it harder to poop.
And while youre dealing with your stressed-out bowels, its possible to also develop dun, dun, dun hemorrhoids. These painful bumps, also called piles, are caused by swollen veins in or near the anus and lower rectum.
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Stress Can Make You More Likely To Get Sick
When we’re stressed, the immune system doesn’t function as well. That’s because stress causes the body to release hormones, such as adrenaline, dopamine, norepinephrine, and cortisol, which can the white blood cells that help fight off harmful viruses or bacteria.
In fact, research has found that chronic stress can make you more susceptible to developing an illness, like the common cold. In a 2012 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , researchers conducted stress interviews on 276 healthy adults and then exposed them to a virus that causes the common cold.
After monitoring them in quarantine for five days, researchers found that chronic stress was associated with an increased likelihood of developing a cold when exposed to the virus.
How your body and immune system respond to stress depends on many factors, including whether the stress is acute or chronic. Acute stress is a normal part of everyday life. It’s how your body responds to threats in the environment, and it’s necessary for survival, Cutler says.
You might experience acute stress when stuck in a traffic jam or running late for an important meeting. For the most part, this acute stress is manageable and doesn’t cause lasting physical effects. However, if you experience it frequently or are constantly under stress, it can become chronic and impair bodily functions like your immune system.
Why I Wake Up At 3am Every Night
If you wake up at 3 a.m. or another time and can’t fall right back asleep, it may be for several reasons. These include lighter sleep cycles, stress, or underlying health conditions. Your 3 a.m. awakenings may occur infrequently and be nothing serious, but regular nights like this could be a sign of insomnia.
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What Are The Consequences Of Long
A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation in men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women
- Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
What To Do When Work Stress Makes You Sick
High-pressure jobs can create psychological stress that is severe enough to have physical effects, from chronic headaches to nausea to insomnia. Severe stress has even been known to cause strokes. If we find ourselves in the kind of job that is resulting in a hit to our health, we must take intentional steps to better our body and mind. First, try to identify the source of your stress. At the onset of your physical symptoms, write down whats happening to you and around you. Second, make sure youre getting enough exercise and mental downtime, voicing your concerns to others, and setting healthy boundaries. Finally, if none of these things seem to be working, consider finding a new job.
Alyson was 35 when she had a stroke.
The ambitious attorney awoke one morning unable to move, the left side of her body paralyzed. She was due in court later that day, so before calling for help, she reached for her phone and dialed her assistant.
The stroke was the match in the powder barrel. For days, Alyson had ignored the warning signs, including ringing in her ears, visual impairments, and exhaustion. Her doctors had trouble pinpointing the source of her stroke after all, the vast majority occur in those over 65 but they all offered their best guess: stress.
So if we find ourselves in the kind of job that is resulting in a hit to our health, we must take intentional steps to better our body and mind.
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Youve Been Getting More Headaches Than Usual
If youre not typically susceptible to headaches, but have been inundated with them lately, stress could be the culprit. Often called tension headaches, these pesky head-throbbers happen when your neck and scalp muscles contract as a response to stress.
Symptoms of a tension headache include:
- Pain, tightness, or pressure in the front, sides, and/or top of your head
- Slight sensitivity to light and noise
- A headache that starts late in the day
- Difficulty focusing
And if you do normally get headaches or migraines, stress can both trigger and make them worse.
Why Do I Feel Sick In The Morning
It could be a number of reasons, GP Sonal Shah says, including a lack of sleep, anxiety or your current diet.
While feeling sick in the morning is really unpleasant and doesnt make us relish getting out of bed, its unlikely that its something to worry about in the long term. A lot of the time, the symptoms can be banished by taking a few simple next steps. And sometimes, although we hate to admit it, its the result of overdoing it one way or another the night before.
But in some cases, like an inner ear infection or pregnancy, its important to recognise the other symptoms and seek help from a medical professional. If you do have any major concerns, its best to speak to your GP as soon as possible so you can get checked out. Even if theres nothing to worry about, confiding in a professional can give you peace of mind.
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So What Role Does Your Mental Health Actually Play In Terms Of Your Physical Well
Before you can even begin to understand how anxiety affects the rest of your body, it’s important to have a general understanding of what anxiety even is. Scientifically speaking, Laura Rubin, Ph.D, a licensed clinical psychologist at Portsmouth Neuropsychology Center in New Hampshire, tells Elite Daily that anxiety is a neurobiological response that happens when your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. In other words, when a situation feels weird or off-putting to you, or a person is coming off really shady or untrustworthy, your brain picks up these cues, causing your nervous system to react.
And, according to Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC, a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, when you feel overly anxious or stressed, itâs natural for your body to respond. In fact, she tells Elite Daily, itâs a chemical reaction that sparks these physical ailments, because chronic stress and anxiety can cause your body âto release adrenaline,â she explains, which suggests that, on top of feeling mental stress and anxiety, your physical well-being is going to react, too.