Stress manifests in a multitude of ways. Some of them are emotional symptoms, like moodiness and irritability, and others may mask themselves as physical issues.
The problem with this physiological phenomenon is that you may simply chalk these issues up as something harmless. Not only that, data shows stress is continually on the rise, making the problem more of a byproduct of everyday life rather than a health complication that needs to be controlled. But there are major consequences if you don’t address your stress: It can lead to heart problems, sleep disturbances, depressive symptoms and more.
Needless to say, it’s important to determine whether you’re experiencing issues with your emotional health. Can’t tell if you’re feeling high-strung or not? Here are some of the ways your body may be telling you that you’re stressed:
1. Your muscles are throbbing.
Strained neck? Tight shoulders? It may not be due to that new workout or a poor pillow. You carry a lot of tension in your muscles when you’re stressed out and that can appear as strains or injuries. For men, lower back pain can be a common side effect of stress and women typically experience issues in their upper backs, Reader’s Digest recently reported. Can someone say “massage time?”
2. You have a headache.
Speaking of tension, you can also collect it in your noggin. A stress headache, that dull, aching pain that feels like a band around your head, happens when you’re feeling high strung. Over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen, may help ease the pain or stress exercises like meditation or yoga may also provide some relief.
3. You’re thirsty.
When you’re feeling anxious, it can cause your adrenal glands ― small glands located at the top of your kidneys ― to pump out stress hormones into your body. That adrenal fatigue may lead to a fluctuation in other hormones, too, including a reduction in compounds that can affect your electrolyte and fluid levels. So if you’re feeling parched, your stress might be to blame.
4. You’re sweating.
If you’ve ever had to give a presentation through clammy hand or damp underarms, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Excessive perspiration due to stress, which known as hyperhidrosis, can affect anyone who is experiencing a little more anxiety than usual. Try some stress-controlling tricks like taking deep breaths or listening to soothing music to help bring those levels down in the immediate moment.
5. Your hair is falling out.
Shedding could be more than just a mild irritant. There are a few conditions that cause hair loss due to excessive stress: Telogen effluvium, which can cause hair to fall out over time just through simply brushing or washing it; Trichotillomania, which is a condition that leads to hair pulling; and Alopecia areata, where the body’s immune system begins attacking hair follicles. Talk to your doctor if you’re seeing more stand loss than usual.
6. You’re running to the bathroom a lot.
If you’re experiencing stomach issues like cramping or a frequent urge to go to the bathroom, you might want to consider getting that stress in check. Anxiety can cause digestion issues, as Everyday Health points out. Here’s how:
When stress activates the “flight or fight” response in your central nervous system, digestion can shut down because your central nervous system shuts down blood flow, affects the contractions of your digestive muscles, and decreases secretions needed for digestion.
7. You’re not feeling too hot.
Sniffles and stress go hand-in-hand. Research shows stress can make you more susceptible to issues like the common cold. Not only that, some chronic conditions like migraines can flair up following a stressful period. This phenomenon, known as “the let down effect,” occurs once your body finally relaxes.
When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol (AKA the stress hormone). The hormone protects your body from pain in the moment (hello, adrenaline!) but as soon as it calms down, it returns your body to equilibrium, which could set the stage for pain, experts say.
8. You have tooth troubles.
Tooth clenching or grinding can happen without you being aware of it, even the middle of the night when you’re fast asleep. And the main culprit ― you guessed it ― is stress. Not only can grinding or clenching lead to jaw pain, it can also put you at risk for chipping or damaging those pearly whites. Dentists recommend relaxation techniques and wearing a mouth guard when you sleep if it gets severe.
9. You see a different number on the scale.
Minor weight changes aren’t a huge deal (after all, we can fluctuate back and forth in just one day). But if you’re experience a bigger rise or dip, something might be up. Changes in appetite is one of the more common signs of stress and could signal that it’s something to address.
To control the risk of weight changes, experts suggest partaking in a healthy diet, getting a good amount of sleep and exercising. Not only will they assist with weight, both moves are inherently good for curbing stress. Win-win.
10. Your memory is foggy.
Pay attention if you’ve misplaced your keys one too many times. Spotty recall has been linked to excessive amounts of stress, CNN reported. Chronic stress can reduce spatial memory, the part of the mind that helps you remember locations, objects and other more mundane items.
Any of this sound familiar? Try one of these stress-zapping techniques below. Take it easy ― your body needs it.