Most of us accept the fact that stress is a certainty in modern society. We understand that as we go about our day, we will almost certainly encounter a stressful situation. Many of us will have to deal with multiple stressors throughout the day. A little stress can be a good thing. It can motivate us to get things done and it can serve as a powerful self-preservation agent. However, too much stress experienced continuously, can pose a serious threat to mental and physical health.

Of course, high levels of stress are felt by the body. In a state of distress, the brain will release adrenaline and cortisol (“the stress hormone”) into the bloodstream. Under normal circumstances – and in the presence of a real threat – this hormonal response allows us to stop functions that would not be essential or harmful in a fight or flight situation. In other words, we can proactively deal with the threat in such circumstances.

However, overexposure to adrenaline and cortisol hormones can adversely affect almost every system within the body. Overexposure to cortisol from excess stress increases the risk of numerous health problems , such as anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and impaired memory and concentration.

8 signs someone is overly stressed and doesn’t know it

In this article, we discuss eight of the most common physical effects of being overly stressed . We will also provide some tips on how to effectively deal with chronic stressors in our lives.
First of all, here are the eight physical signs of too much stress:

1. Headaches

Headaches are more likely to occur when we are stressed. Also, stress is the leading cause of tension headaches. The most common type of headache, tension-type headaches, can cause mild, moderate, or severe pain in the head, neck, and behind the eyes. Stress can create and exacerbate other types of headaches, including migraines.

2. Digestive problems

When the brain opens the gates of the hormone, the digestive system undergoes a kind of initial “shock”. Medical experts have discovered an intricate connection between the brain and the digestive system , which helps explain why stress can cause a host of digestive problems on the surface. Chronic stress can also make certain conditions worse, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

3. Frequent colds and infections

Stress causes our circulatory system to kick in excessively (due to increased heart rate). This physiological effect, along with an increase in blood pressure, can suppress the immune system. Of course, this weakens the immune system’s ability to seek out and neutralize disease-causing bacteria and other agents.

4. Weight gain

Although stress reactions are more commonly associated with weight gain, a minority of people experience fluctuating weight and even weight loss . That said, elevated cortisol levels have been shown to “increase appetite, drive cravings and junk food cravings, and make it easier to pack on belly fat.

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5. Stomach problems

As mentioned, stress reactions can put the digestive system in bad shape. Stomach problems are among the most commonly cited symptoms of those with high levels of stress. Nausea, indigestion, cramps, and aches are potential stomach-related problems as a result of a stress reaction.

6. Fatigue

Emotional, mental and physical stimuli can cause stress, which disrupts the normal functioning of our body. The presence of stress increases pressure and tension levels within the body, making it more prone to fatigue, it also potentially manifests itself in mental or physical exhaustion.

7. Chest pain or palpitations

Stress creates anxiety and anxiety creates stress . This frustrating mental cycle can cause chest tightness and / or pain. Also, chest pains are often frightening experiences – and this reaction further exacerbates the stress / anxiety that is present.

Chronic stress is itself a risk factor for heart disease and heart attack. Recent studies have also linked stress and blood clotting mechanisms, which can cause moderate to severe heart problems.

8. Loss of sexual desire

For both men and women, the desire to have sex can be hampered by stress. The simple reason is that stress retains chemicals in the brain responsible for stimulating sexual desire. Chronic stress can lead to ovulation problems in women and decreased sperm count and fertility in men.

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Tips for dealing with too much stress

While stress can be an unavoidable fact of life, there are plenty of ways to lessen its effect on our minds and bodies.

Some of the best ways to combat stress include:

  1. Write for 10-15 minutes a day about stressful events and their effects. This helps organize our thoughts and can promote stress relief.
  2. Talking to family, friends, or a professional about your stressful feelings is a healthy way to relieve them.
  3. Do something nice, like a hobby, creative activity, or volunteer work.
  4. Focus on the present by practicing meditation and guided imagery.
  5. Regular exercise, which is one of the best ways to manage stress. Stretching can reduce muscle tension, which is a byproduct of elevated levels of stress.
  6. Practicing breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and yoga can help relieve stress.
  7. Have a massage, try aromatherapy or music therapy.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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