Whether it's a hectic schedule, a crazy-busy work day or a large, life-changing event, stress can wreak havoc on our bodies. Recognizing the signs of stress is very important for self care, and knowing what we can do to alleviate stress is paramount to keeping our bodies healthy and functioning. Here's five signs of stress, and what they can do to our bodies.
5 Signs That Prove You're Under Too Much Stress
While it's been anecdotal at best, stress-related acne was finally confirmed through a study performed in 2003 at Stanford University. In it, they found that college students did indeed suffer acne flare ups at exam time. While scientists are still unsure as to the how and why, it could be on account of hormonal changes and sebum, which is produced by cells and have receptors for stress hormones. Sebum mixes with bacteria and other matter such as dead skin cells, and can clog hair follicles, ultimately causing acne. Our advice for keeping stress-related acne at bay? Be proactive. Follow an acne-fighting skincare regime that includes benzoyl peroxide, avoid fried, greasy and processed foods (which could exacerbate acne) and take a zinc supplement (a mineral known for it's acne fighting properties).
2. Migraine Headaches
Nearly everyone has had to deal with a headache at some point in their lives. Some folks have it worse, suffering from tension headaches and migraines. While there's no official headache classification as "stress headache", being stressed out certainly can make a headache worse. Emotional stress is the biggest culprit when it comes to migraine headaches. The brain releases certain chemicals that can cause vascular changes, exacting a migraine. Anxiety, worry, fatigue--all cause dilated blood vessels--making your migraine miserable.
Treatment for migraines depends on the severity and frequency. For occasional headaches, a simple over the counter med like ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen could do the trick.
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Intense fatigue--lack of energy or motivation--effects about 20% of Americans. If you're suffering from mental exhaustion, and feel a general sense of listlessness and weariness, your symptoms could be on account of stress.
If you're suffering from fatigue, please see your health care provider. After reviewing your medical history and having a conversation about your lifestyle, he or she should test for diabetes, anemia and thyroid problems to rule out (or treat) any life threatening health issues. Once a diagnosis is made, work with your provider to determine the best course of action, including medications, diet and lifestyle changes.
Feeling under the weather, suffering from frequent colds or perhaps even the flu? If you're constantly battling a cold or if you find that you always feel a bit under the weather, then stress could be to blame.
The Calm Clinic states that because anxiety causes the release of the stress hormone cortisol throughout the body, anxiety may even weaken your immune system. Naturally, this will leave you more susceptible illnesses like a cold or flu.
"Cortisol weakens your immune system for a good reason. During periods of intense stress, as though you were about to face a predator, cortisol is trying to help reduce inflammation by weakening some of the antibodies that can increase inflammation," says The Calm Clinic. Of course once the threat has passed (i.e., stress), you need your antibodies back to functioning normally. If they don't function properlt, your immune system suffers.
5. Loss Of Libido
Let's be honest: When you're stressed out or feeling anxious, are you in the mood for sex? I know I'm not. And once again, cortisol is to blame.
As mentioned before, chronic stress can cause your body to produce too much cortisol, which can lower your libido. Another fun fact about excessive cortisol: It can also throw off your menstrual cycle. With stress on the brain, trying to enjoy yourself in bed will be near impossible.
Our solution: Once you've ruled out or addressed any diseases, illnesses or other diagnoses that can be contributing to your stress, then it's definitely time for some self care. Regular massages, yoga or tai chi, a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients (and less processed foods) and a solid 8 hours of sleep on a mattress that supports your body in a neutral position are key (check out this mattress selection guide if you want to find out more about finding the best mattress type for you).
This blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.