A painful word, and even more painful to be under- STRESS.
Why do I call it a Demon? Because it wrecks a havoc on our body, without us even realizing. It doesn’t come as a surprise just how common stress has become these days. Our lifestyle is changing; hectic work, financial troubles, health issues, home, relationships, social media, almost everything around us. The whole environment that we live in, is full of stressors.
And stress only paves way for more stress. Once it gets triggered, our mind overthinks and pushes us to take more stress, without us realizing.
This little “tension” not only gives us a headache but does a lot more harm than we even realize. Today, let’s look at the effect stress has on our mind and body to understand why it is crucial to identify this threat to our health.
What is Stress?
In simple words, Stress is the body’s response to the mind’s perception that the environment is too demanding. This response shows up in many ways throughout your body. Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system and puts it in a fight or flight mode, which is why we get so nervous and cranky at times. This causes countless effects, thanks to the rush of hormones and brain chemicals involved.
How to Know if You’re Stressed?
Now stress doesn’t affect all of us in the same way. For some, the symptoms show up quite early. Whereas for some, they do not show up until later or until it’s too late.
Let’s look at the 11 common signs and symptoms that show that you are clearly over worked and stressed –
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- Neck pain
Muscle tension is one of the first physical manifestations of stress, and it tends to be most pronounced at the base of the head. That is why, more often than not, we develop shoulder and neck pain, and stiffness that just doesn’t seems to go away.
Stress is the most common cause of tension headaches. It can also trigger other types of headaches, like migraines, or make an existing headache worse.
Stress can have a wide range of Gastro Intestinal consequences. The digestion is often disrupted and slowed down when your nervous system is trying to cope with stress. The colon is partially controlled by the nervous system and this triggers the Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Hair loss
A very common symptom of prolonged high level of stress is Hair loss. Sometimes, traumatic life events, like a death of a loved one or a huge career change, can actually cause your hair to stop growing temporarily as your body dedicates its efforts to surviving said event.
- Weight gain
Stress wreaks havoc on your metabolism. High stress means high levels of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is that dreaded hormone that not only increases your appetite but also holds on to calories because it tells your brain you’re in an emergency situation and your body needs to get into survival mode. Therefore, it basically hoards food for bad days. This makes it so much easier to accumulate belly fat.
Stress may cause excess abdominal fat in otherwise slender women. Non-overweight women who are vulnerable to the effects of stress are more likely to have excess abdominal fat.
Cortisol surges can also lead to sudden breakouts of cystic acne—aka, red, painful zits that won’t go away, regardless of the dermatological treatment
- Rapid heartbeat and chest pain
When we’re stressed, our bodies release other stress hormones as well—adrenaline and noradrenaline—to get us ready to fight. This causes a short-term increase in heart rate and blood pressure and even chest pain. Over time, stress really can take its toll on your heart. Chronic stress leads to cardiovascular disease.
When you are over worked, with your mind constantly running and over thinking, you will find it difficult to unplug your mind and fall asleep.
- Getting sick more often
Research shows that stress negatively impacts the immune system and makes us more prone to getting sick. People who are older or already sick are more prone to decreased immunity from stress.
- Irregular periods
Too much cortisol can interfere with the sex hormones that regulate ovulation and make your period irregular. Extreme stress inhibits the release of the egg in females and hence, causes the irregularity. This is typically only seen in instances of very heavy, chronic stress.
With all the above mentioned symptoms already overworking your mind and body, and the restless sleep cycle, you are bound to get tired and eventually fatigued with prolonged stressing. You are overwhelmed with various physical ailments that now no longer seem under your control. When you’re tired, you get more irritable and it’s harder to cope mentally with stress, creating a vicious cycle.
Now that we have enlisted the symptoms and effects of stress, I hope you will make a conscious effort to analyse how much of stress you are under and take appropriate measure to get it checked. With such high impact on health, it becomes imperative to deal stress right away. We shall discuss about that in our next blog. Stay tuned for “Stress: Learning to Deal with the Demon”. Until then, if you have any doubts, feel free to ask me in the comments below and I will be happy to help you out.