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How Stress Can Sneakily Impact Your Health

by Dr Prem Community Writer
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In light of recent events, it’s hard not to feel at least a little bit of stress. After a long, hard year, everyone was ready to kick anxiety and worry to the curb. Yet, here you are, a few days into 2021 and just as stressed as you were nine months ago.

This long-term exposure to stressful situations like riots, an election and a global pandemic was a recipe for disaster from the start. Now, many people are experiencing adverse health effects of chronic apprehension and uneasiness. Maybe these symptoms have even snuck up on you.

1. Upset Stomach

stomach problemsThe brain and gut are in constant communication with one another, so it only makes sense that stress would affect your gastrointestinal system. Both long-term and short-term stress can cause a range of stomach issues. Nausea, indigestion, constipation and diarrhea are all common symptoms or feeling overwhelmed. However, more serious cases may also cause esophageal spasms and vomiting.

Stress can also cause a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the stomach and exacerbate pre-existing health issues. For example, those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease may experience more debilitating symptoms in high-stress situations.

2. Weakened Immune System

If you’ve upped your vitamin C intake this winter and are still experiencing colds and flus, stress may be the culprit. Your body relies on a strong immune system to fight disease. However, tension and anxiety can weaken your system’s defenses, leaving you more susceptible to infections.

Stress can also indirectly affect your immunity when you use unhealthy coping strategies to deal with chaos. Drinking, smoking and unhealthy eating habits will only weaken your body’s defenses. Therefore, it’s best to cultivate a healthy lifestyle, even during periods of intense anxiety and worry.

3. Breakouts

Take-Care-Of-Forehead-WrinklesIs your skin acting up? Acne, rashes, redness and wrinkles are all telltale signs of stress, especially if you’ve maintained your skincare routine. Regardless of how often you cleanse, stress will activate your skin’s sebaceous glands and increase sebum production. Consequently, your skin may become oily and attract more dirt that can clog pores and cause breakouts. If you already have acne, stress can also make it worse and prolong healing time.

4. Sensitive Teeth and Gums

When you feel overwhelmed, you might notice that you clench your jaw or grind your teeth. Both habits can cause long-term issues for your oral health including increased tooth sensitivity and receding gums. After a while, you may even experience decay and chips in your smile. While mouth guards can protect your teeth and gums, most people only wear them at night. Thus, the best way to reduce sensitivity and safeguard your mouth is to minimize stress.

5. Inconsistent Menstrual Cycle

Menstrual-Pain-And-CrampsTemporary menstrual changes are common, especially if you suddenly switch up your diet, begin exercising more or lose a significant amount of weight. However, long-term stress can also delay your period or cause you to skip it completely. As your cortisol levels rise, they suppress the hormonal cycle responsible for ovulation and periods.

If you can rule out pregnancy and still experience these symptoms for more than a month, it may be wise to see your gynecologist. They’ll be able to tell you whether stress is the culprit or if a condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome is causing the inconsistency.

6. Sore Muscles

Does your whole body ache? Are your muscles tight? Stress can make your joints and ligaments tense up to protect your body. This automatic reflex is second nature and can lead to headaches, shoulder, back and neck pain. It can also lead to flare-ups of symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia and other similar conditions. However, if you’re experiencing constant body aches, seeing your doctor may be the best way to pinpoint a specific cause.

7. Poor Mental Health

AnxietyPoor mental health and stress often go hand in hand. Byproducts of stress hormones can act as sedatives, which can contribute to fatigue, low energy levels, anxiety and depression. They can also cause irritability, anger, aggression and impulsivity. These feelings may cause the victim to harm himself and others or simply withdraw from social interactions.

Chronic and severe stress can also negatively affect those with pre-existing mental health conditions like bipolar disorder. When life gets chaotic, stress may trigger a depressive or manic mood episode and even extend its duration. Those with anxiety and other mood disorders may experience more severe symptoms as well. 

Minimizing Stress in an Increasingly Chaotic World

Knowing the warning signs of stress will help you become more aware of it and its effects on your mind and body. As you notice these negative health impacts, you can adopt new ways to cope with difficult situations and minimize stress. Even in an increasingly chaotic world, you can manage anxiety and worry.

Take breaks from social media and the news. Take care of your body with good food and regular movement. Meditate or practice breathing techniques to remain calm and get plenty of sleep to boost your energy. Most importantly, develop a self-care routine and reprioritize yourself. After all, you deserve a happy, healthy life, even if things don’t always go according to plan.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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