Can Stress Make You Sick?
Everyone gets stressed from time to time. It’s an inevitable part of life, but did you know stress can make you feel sick? When you’re overwhelmed and stressed out, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This response is meant to help you deal with danger, which was useful in the hunter-gatherer days of our ancestors. But when stress is part of modern life, and our fight or flight response is constantly on, it can take a toll on your health.
The Physical Symptoms of Stress
Stress can also cause many unpleasant and unwelcome physical symptoms, including:
Stress can trigger headaches and migraines, and tension headaches are the most common type of stress-related headache. When you are stressed, you may tense your muscles, including those in your head and neck, without realizing it. This can lead to a tension headache. In addition, things like clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, and poor posture can also lead to stress-related tension headaches.
Stress can also cause an upset stomach. This is because when you’re stressed out, your body releases hormones that negatively impact the way our digestive system moves waste through the body. Stress may also affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, leading to digestive issues.
Like stress-related stomach problems, stress-related nausea results from hormones impacting the digestive system. When you’re feeling stressed, your stomach may begin to feel queasy, causing you to vomit.
Stress can also cause feelings of dizziness. When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. This can lead to a rise in heart rate, narrowing of blood vessels, and hyperventilation, all of which can lead to feelings of dizziness.
Fatigue and Insomnia
Those who are stressed often experience fatigue and insomnia. This is due to the fact that when stress kicks in, your body releases hormones that influence sleep habits. You may also be too worried to fall asleep or lie awake at night worrying about stressors.
When stress causes these physical symptoms, it may cause people to stress out even more in their efforts to discover what’s causing it. Stressed out people often visit with their doctor trying to find a solution for these symptoms, but all too often, stress is overlooked as the cause.
This can create a vicious cycle that perpetuates the problem. Therefore, finding ways to reduce stress can be the key to getting relief from unwanted stress symptoms.
Stress-Related Health Problems
Stress can also exacerbate many health conditions and even cause new ones to arise. Some common stress-related health problems include:
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and can be exacerbated by stress. When you’re feeling stressed out, your body releases hormones like cortisol, which increases your blood pressure and heart rate. This puts extra strain on your heart, which may lead to health problems down the road.
Being stressed out can also increase your risk for stroke. When you’re under stress, your body releases hormones that constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure. This puts a strain on the brain and the rest of the body as well as increases your risk of having a stroke.
Stress can trigger asthma attacks in people who have this condition. When you’re stressed out, the airways become inflamed, which may lead to an asthma attack.
Depression is a common side effect of stress. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, your brain produces less serotonin, which is responsible for your mood regulation. Having low serotonin levels can lead to feelings of depression and hopelessness.
Stress can contribute to the development of diabetes. When you’re under stress, your body produces more cortisol and sugar, lowers insulin production, and affects the sensitivity and resistance of the insulin hormone. As a result, stress may increase the risk for type II diabetes.
Weakened Immune System
Chronic stress can also lead to a weakened immune system. When you’re feeling stressed, your body releases cortisol, causing the immune system to become suppressed. As a result, stress makes you more susceptible to colds and other infections.
Tips for Preventing and Dealing with Stress
By finding ways to avoid and prevent stress, you can keep your body healthy and mind happy. Some ways to manage stress include:
Regularly practicing yoga is a great way to reduce stress levels. Yoga works by promoting:
- Increased blood flow
- Reduced feelings of anxiety
- Improved moods
- A stronger immune system
When you’re feeling stressed out or anxious, getting a massage can be a great way to relax. Massage therapy works by relieving tension in the muscles, which may reduce stress levels. Massage therapy also helps improve blood circulation and promotes relaxation.
Studies have shown that meditation can help reduce stress levels. When you’re meditating, you’re focusing on your breathing and clearing your mind of all thoughts. Meditation enables you to disconnect from your stressors and calm down. It also reduces blood pressure, anxiety levels, and cortisol production – all of which can help reduce symptoms of stress.
Get a Pet
Having a pet has been shown to reduce your cortisol levels. In addition, pets provide companionship and unconditional love, which can help reduce stress. They also require regular attention and exercise, which can be a great way to relieve tension. However, be sure only to get a pet if your lifestyle allows it.
One of the oldest therapies in the world, aromatherapy uses essential oils to promote relaxation and improve mood. When you’re feeling stressed, inhaling the scent of lavender or chamomile can help calm and relax you.
Getting regular exercise can reduce stress levels. Staying active also helps keep your body strong and healthy, which reduces the risk of several diseases associated with stress.
Eating healthy foods is one way to stay energized when you’re feeling stressed out. Eating junk food might make you feel temporarily better because it boosts your blood sugar, but this is only a temporary fix that will ultimately make you feel worse. Staying away from processed foods and eating plenty of fresh produce can help keep stress levels down.
By using these tips, you can help keep your stress levels in check and avoid the health problems that come along with it. Staying healthy and stress-free is vital to living a happy and productive life.
Manage Stress with Mile High Psychiatry
Mile High Psychiatry is dedicated to providing patients with the tools they need to live a healthy and stress-free life. Mile High Psychiatry is committed to helping patients achieve optimal mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling with chronic stress or other mental health conditions, contact Mile High Psychiatry today. Click here to request an appointment.
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