We all accept that stress has become a part of our modern life and we understand that there’s not a day that goes by that we’re not exposed to some level of it. Most of us have to cope with extremely high levels of stress throughout the day, for some it’s part of the job, for others it’s the private life that stresses them out, but we all have something we stress about. A bit of stress in your life can be a good thing, it keeps you on your toes and activates your self-preservation mechanisms. Excessive levels of stress, however, on a continuous basis, can have a seriously negative impact on your mental and physical health.
Stress doesn’t only affect our mental health, it interferes with our entire body, wreaking havoc in many major systems in the body. Stress causes the brain to release excessive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline into our bloodstream. Excessive amounts of these two hormones can have a negative effect on almost any system in the body. Overexposure to cortisol as a result of too much stress can increase your anxiety, can lead to depression, digestive issues, heart problems, headaches, weight gain, sleep problems and memory issues.
Below we’ll talk about some of the most common symptoms that you’re exposed to excessive amounts of stress and how to deal with it effectively.
5 Symptoms that you’re overstressed
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who deal with too much stress on a daily basis often experience headaches. Also, it’s been proven that stress is the leading factor when it comes to tension headaches, which are the most common type of headaches that can cause moderate to intense pain. Moreover, stress can also lead to other types of headaches, including migraines.
How often have you experienced a loss of appetite because of stress? This happens because our digestive system is intricately connected with our brain and once the brain releases these high amounts of hormones, our digestive system is flooded as well. Chronic exposure to stress can aggravate existing conditions, like IBS, or cause entirely new ones.
Most people would say that stress is makes them crave for certain foods, high calorie meals and junk food in general. Some say that stress causes them to lose weight, but overall, most would agree that they try to numb out the stress with overeating. Increased levels of cortisol can increase your appetite and your cravings for junk food, which in turn drives you towards weight gain.
Colds and infections
In addition to the other health problems we experience as a result of stress, our body’s immune system is suppressed by overexposure to stress. Stress increases our heart rate, which causes our blood pressure to increase as well, which in turn weakens our immune system and disables its main function – tracking and neutralizing bacteria and viruses.
Heart problems and chest pain
Stress is like a never ending cycle that repeats itself over and over again. Stress leads to anxiety, which leads back to stress, which leads back to anxiety and it goes back and forth like that. This never ending cycle of stress, anxiety and tension can lead to chest pain and tightness, which can also increase the amount of stress and anxiety in a person. Chronic stress is one of the main risk factors that lead to heart problems and heart attack.
Coping with excessive levels of stress
You can’t avoid it entirely, but you can surely limit its effects and lower its levels. Here are a few effective tactics that can help you lower your exposure to stress:
- Talk to friends and family, or a trained professional, about the amount of stress you have to endure on a daily basis. Talking about your issues is a healthy way to get release.
- Write a journal about your day-to-day activities, especially the stressful ones. Write short summaries (10-15 minutes a day) and you’ll feel more organized and prepared for what comes next.
- Take up some hobby or do something you enjoy doing, like dancing, jogging, walking your dog or simply listening to your favorite band. DO something that helps you relax and unwind.
- Try yoga or meditations.
- Another proven way to get rid of the excess stress is to start exercising.
- Practice breathing exercises, stretches and muscle relaxation.
- Try aromatherapy, massage therapy or music therapy, whichever suits you best. All three have proven to be very beneficial in lowering stress levels and promoting general health and well-being.