The many ways stress makes you sick

In this fast-paced world we live in, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by the many things that are happening all at once. Worrying too much about the things that are going on causes stress, which can lead to the manifestation of different health issues.

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it is essential in creating an appropriate fight-or-flight response. When you are stressed, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, are released by your body. These hormones cause physical and physiological changes, such as rapid heart rate, faster breathing, altered immune response, tense muscles, and sweating.

Although stress is normal, it is not always beneficial, especially if it is experienced for long periods of time. Soon, your body will react to stress in ways that can damage your health.

Some of the health issues caused by stress can include:

  • Acne – Most of the time, acne is just experienced by teenagers going through puberty, but because of stress it becomes a problem even in adults. Studies show that the acne condition of university students typically gets worse when there are exams. This is caused by increased concentrations of stress hormones that disturb the hormonal equilibrium.
  • Headaches – Nearly 60 percent of working-age adults experience headaches, which can be classified as tension-type. This type of headache is due to tension brought about by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions.
  • Chronic pain – High levels of cortisol are released during a stress response. This leads to chronic pain, which can come in the form of back pain, neck pain, or sore muscles.
  • Colds – Alteration of the immune response in the presence of stressors can lead to increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds.
  • Fatigue – When all you think about are the stressors in your life, you start to lose sleep over these factors. As a result, you start to feel tired more easily. Extreme cases have been reported where people who have experienced a stressful year suddenly develop insomnia in the following year.
  • Digestive problems – Beneficial microbes in the gut are also affected by stress. Studies have shown that stress-induced changes in the gut microbiota lead to irritable bowel syndrome or auto-immune digestive illness.
  • Changes in appetite – People who experience stress tend to “stress eat.” This means that they start turning to food to distract them from their worries. Unfortunately, when people are stressed, they don’t pay much attention to what they are eating, as long as the food makes them feel happier.

Stress can be good for the body as long as there isn’t too much of it. Keeping it to a minimum will prevent health problems that can result in even more stress. Otherwise, the cycle of stress-induced health problems, which cause stress, which then lead to more health problems, will just go on and on. (Related: Stress: It could be killing you.)

Stress management tips

It is normal to experience stress. What is more important is knowing how to handle it so that the situation doesn’t get too overwhelming. Some tips on how to properly manage stress are:

  • Practicing breathing exercises and relaxation
  • Confiding in someone
  • Exercising
  • Eating a healthier diet
  • Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Learning proper time management skills
  • Finding an effective destressor

Learn more about the different ways your body may respond to stress by visiting today.

Sources include: 1 2

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