Signs Stress Is Making You Sick
A little stress can actually be a good thing. In small spurts, it’s what motivates you to prep for a major test or work presentation, or makes your palms go sweaty in anticipation of a first date. Too much stress, on the other hand, can be overwhelming emotionally and even detrimental to your physical health.
“Just like our feelings give us information about our needs, so do our bodies through physiological feedback,” says Eliza Chamblin, a therapist in New York City who specializes in stress management. “If you are noticing any physical or somatic symptoms, consider it as valuable information telling you that something isnt right.”
Not sure what those physical signs might be? Here are 6 potential indications that stress is making you sick, plus what to do for each situation.
Ways To Reset And Get Healthy
Is your job making you sick? There are fortunately some things you can do to take your health back into your own hands and reduce the overall stress you feel.
Try Out Relaxation Techniques Like Deep Breathing and Meditation These have been proven to help people manage and keep stress under control, and they’re easy to fit into your schedule, only taking a few minutes each day.
Seek Support at Home Talk to your family members about the pressure you’re feeling at work and ask for their support. And make changes in your daily schedule to increase the amount of time you spend doing things you enjoy outside of work.
Ask for Help at Work If you’re doing more than your job position requires or picking up slack for your coworkers, you may want to talk with your colleagues or supervisor about ways they can help you reduce your workload or increase your productivity. If you have a good rapport with the people you work with and feel comfortable asking for their help, you might be able to lighten your load pretty dramatically.
Change Your Dietary and Exercise Habits This can be difficult when you’re in the throes of an overwhelming job, but taking some measures to eat better and exercise more can have enormous benefits on your health. Every little bit helps, and if you fall off the wagon, don’t give up. Start fresh with the next meal or the next day.
How To Manage Stress And Stay Healthy
According to Cutler, prolonged stress is associated with many health complications, like a weakened immune system and an increased risk of heart disease, so the better you’re able to manage your stress, the better your overall health will be.
“In general, people deal much better with these stressful events by staying focused on what is happening right now, rather than dwelling on what might have happened in the past to make things come out differently, or what the consequences are going to be in the future,” Cutler says.
Some proven ways to reduce stress include:
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How Your Stress Could Be Making You Sick
Back when humans lived in the wild and had to hunt and gather their food, stress served an essential purpose. An imminent tiger or wolf attack would spur a response in the body known as fight or flight. This is when multiple systems in the body produce a responsereleasing hormones such as adrenaline, increasing breathing and heart rate, elevating glucose and fatty acid levels in the bloodto give the body and mind enough energy and stamina to fight or flee a dangerous situation.
This still comes in handy sometimes, like braking quickly to avoid a car accident. But more often our bodies are responding to stressors that exist in everyday life, from a looming work deadline to concerns over the COVID-19.
The problem is, our bodys physiology has not evolved at the same speed as our environmental stressors, says UNC Health psychologist Susan Girdler, PhD. Our stressors are now chronic in the form of health, financial, work and relationship stress. We still mount the same stress response in our bodies as if we are dealing with an immediate physical stressor, but we are sitting absolutely still.
For some people, the bodys stress response is activated over and over again, sometimes rarely returning to a normal, balanced state.
This is what experts call allostatic load, in which chronic stress puts wear and tear on the body and mind. Heres what could be affected:
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.
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How Long Can Anxiety Last
Here are some tips to help you keep stress at bay.
Signs Your Stress Is Making You Sick
Do you have a headache that never seems to fade or muscles that feel like theyre in a constant state of fatigue? Even if you dont have these symptoms, its likely that youre somewhat familiar with chronic stress, acute stress or both, which arise when were faced with a situation that makes us worry. But stress doesnt just cause negative feelings the effects of stress on health and your body and well-being are numerous. Here are some signs that stress may be impacting your health more than you initially thought.
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Your Gut Is Out Of Sorts
More bad news for your gut. Even if you dont suffer from an autoimmune disorder, stress hormones can trigger unhelpful changes in the way your digestive system transports, breaks down, and absorbs nutrients, finds a 2011 study in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. Even short-term stress can lead to temporary bouts of stomach pain, cramps, diarrhea, or other gut-related symptoms.
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.
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Treatment For Psychosomatic Illness
Your doctor may want you to talk to a mental health professional, but thats not to say that your physical symptoms only need psychological treatment. It is important to learn how to effectively manage stress, but that is often a process and can take time. In the meantime, you need to treat your physical pain and other symptoms.
For example, if you have pain in your neck, learning to cope with stressful triggers can certainly help prevent from happeningbut the pain is not only in your mind.
While it might start in your brain, stress can cause a cascade of chemicals in your body that produces inflammation in the muscles of your neck, which in turn causes you pain. You may need anti-inflammatory medications or another type of treatment, such as massage and physical therapy to manage your pain.
Another helpful analogy is to think of psychosomatic illness as a flooded river that happens after a dam breaks. The most important step for preventing more flooding is to fix the dam. However, its also necessary to handle the flooding thats already happened while the dam is being repaired.
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Back Neck And Shoulder Pain
That achy feeling in your upper body that comes on when youre totally overwhelmed? Its a common, but definitely not fun, part of chronic stress.
Stress is a signal to your body that youre in danger . One of the ways your body responds is by tensing up your muscles, which can help protect them against injury.
The tension should ease up as you calm down. But if youre constantly in a state of overwhelm, your muscles stay tight and never get a chance to relax. And that can lead to pain and aches in your back, shoulders, and neck.
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Recognizing And Treating Alarm Signals
STRESS is articulated around five sub-projects that focus on different topics in humans and animal models. They include behavioral and cardiometabolic phenotyping, identification of RNA signatures, neurofunctional profiling and data processing using machine learning, as well as translational treatment strategies based on neurofeedback.
The scientists involved in STRESS want to fill the knowledge gap about the biological consequences of chronic stress on the brain and body. A better understanding of the biological pathways activated by stress will make it possible to improve diagnoses and develop preventive and therapeutic measures.
This is a slightly altered version of an article by Marita Fuchs, which first appeared in UZH News.
Youre Having Digestive Issues But Your Diet Hasnt Changed
Theres a reason why stressful situations are called gut-wrenching. The brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected meaning the more stressed out your brain is, the unhappier your stomach will get.
Signs that your stomach isnt handling extra stress well include:
- Stomach bloating
- Nausea or queasiness
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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.
How To Take Control Of Your Stress
The good news is that you can avoid health problems associated with chronic worry by learning how to manage your stress.
Dr. Borland suggests the following steps to help you cope with stress:
- Exercise each day. Do some form of exercise each day, whether strength training, aerobic exercise or walking your dog.
- Meditate and breathe deeply. Repeat a calming mantra or visualize a serene setting.
- Eat healthy. Focus on a balanced diet. Also, limit your caffeine and sugar intake, which can key you up and contribute to anxiety and insomnia.
- Stay in contact with people who support you. Get support from your spouse or significant other, parents, siblings and friends.
- Take part in fun activities with family and friends. Smile, laugh and be as emotionally present as you can.
- Seek calming, creative activities. Try painting or drawing, gardening or cooking.
- Be grateful. Focus on areas of life for which you are appreciative. Pay attention to what makes you feel grateful.
- Talk to your doctor and, if necessary, seek professional mental health treatment. Dont hesitate to reach out to your doctor, especially if you are coping with depression or anxiety.
Worry is a part of life for everyone, and this past year has been extra stressful for many. But by taking steps to proactively manage your stress, you can help make sure that your daily worries dont end up hurting your health.
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Too Much Stress Can Make You Physically Ill Researchers Now May Know Why
Its not a surprise when cold and flu season strike once a year with aches, pains and bodily misery. However, something even more virulent has the ability to make us ill year-round: stress.
I know a bit about the link between stress and illness first hand. Four years ago, I set out to regenerate a career that had stalled after the birth of my first child. I said yes to every work opportunity and then some, becoming so overloaded I had to write lists on an hourly basis just to keep everything straight. I traded in wellness and sleep for achievement and a paycheck.
It all came to a head when, despite a sore throat and aches that lasted off and on for a solid week, I drove six hours to speak at a weekend writing conference where I was on for two days straight. Within days of coming home, I developed Scarlet Fever . I was bed ridden and in agony, sicker than I had been since childhood.
Once I finally recovered, I wondered: Could my stress have made me sick?
A large body of research says yes, absolutely. This is particularly true for chronic stress that which recurs and persists over time. Chronic stress can range from a traumatic event that has long-lasting consequences to a toxic workplace where demands are high and rewards are low.
Like anything good, too much of an immune response can be a bad thing.
It took serious illness to remind me no amount of achievement or money is worth losing one’s health.
Can Anxiety Make You Sick For Days
Everyone feels sick sometimes, but in some circumstances, a person can feel sick all or most of the time. This feeling can refer to nausea, catching colds often, or being run-down. A person might feel sick continuously for a few days, weeks, or months due to a lack of sleep, stress, anxiety, or a poor diet.
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Help Is Available For Stress
Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you handle it. The best thing you can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences that come with it is to know your stress symptoms.
If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed by stress, talk to your doctor. Many symptoms of stress can also be signs of other health problems. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and rule out other conditions. If stress is to blame, your doctor can recommend a therapist or counselor to help you better handle your stress.
Signs Your Job Is Making You Sick
Having a highly stressful job can do more than just affect your overall mental well-being. It can also negatively impact your physical health. When you’re overwhelmed and in fight or flight mode at work, your body has to pump out extra cortisol and adrenaline to help you cope. Unfortunately, being in that state for too long can result in a number of unpleasant physical symptoms and even lead to conditions like adrenal fatigue. Is your job making you sick? If you suspect it might be, watch out for these 10 signs and take our free career quiz to see if it might be time for a career change.
You Can’t Sleep Insomnia can be one of the many signs of stress. If you can’t get your mind off work at night and are losing sleep over it, this can result in a whole host of other problems. Sleep deprivation affects your mood, motivation levels, blood pressure, sex drive and immune system.
You Sleep Too Much Stress affects people in different ways, and it may not be causing you to lose sleep. Alternatively, it might be causing you to need more sleep to cope with your elevated adrenaline and cortisol levels. If you are going to bed at a decent hour but still struggling to get out of bed or find yourself needing to sleep in late on the weekends, your body may be telling you something.
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Common Symptoms Of Anxiety Are:
Feelings of panic, danger, or dread
Increased heart rate
Increases nervousness, or a feeling of restlessness and being tense.
Increased breathing, or hyperventilation
Difficulty focusing on anything other than what youre worried about
Digestive problems like gas, diarrhea, or constipation
Obsessively focusing on or avoiding a thing that triggers anxiety
Heightened anxiety about a life situation that triggers a memory of past trauma
If you experience these symptoms often, then you might be showing signs of anxiety.
Signs That Money Worries Are Making You Sick
For example, you may be feeling tired, depressed, and fatigued. You may be suffering from headaches, indigestion, and even have problems with high blood pressure. Some people have difficulty sleeping because of stress or suffer from nightmares when they finally do fall asleep.
The more you worry, the more out of control things may seem. It helps to tackle the problem head on so that you can eliminate the symptoms that are causing your body to feel stress. There are several ways you can tackle the problem of having too much debt and not enough income.
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