The Surprising Ways Stress Can Affect Your Body—Explained!
“It’s all in your mind.”
A lot of people may not realize it but stress can actually lead to a lot of physical symptoms and sensations that cannot or should not be ignored.
From acne and hair fall to body aches and easily catching the sniffles, stress can affect you in more ways than just having an overactive, restless mind. So if you suspect that there are unexplainable changes going on in your body during a tense period in your life, you might want to take it easy to avoid these issues that can be triggered or aggravated by stress:
Have you ever stressed over an important event only to wake up on that day with a huge cystic zit on your face? We’ve all been there at some point. Some of us even deal with that kind of scenario quite often, and the explanation is rather simple: When you’re stressed, your body tends to produce more cortisol—a.k.a. the famous fight-or-flight hormone—that can send signals to the glands of your skin to make more oil. This, in turn, can lead to sudden acne breakouts, especially for people with oily skin.
Experiencing hair fall during an already-stressful time? Don’t fret! It’s actually a normal bodily response to stress. While extreme stress is not usually the main cause of hair loss, it can be a contributing factor for some, as high stress levels induce hair follicles into a resting phase, eventually resulting in hair fall. It goes away on its own without treatment once you’ve identified and managed your triggers.
Feeling Under The Weather
Stress can compromise your immune system by decreasing your white blood cells that help fight off infection, wearing your body’s natural defenses down. This then increases your risk of catching viruses including the common cold, which explains why you seem to get sick more easily when you’re stressed out.
You may have noticed when you’re cramming for a school project or a deadline at work, your neck and shoulder muscles become stiff and cause pains in the area or, worse, a creeping headache. There are a lot of culprits to blame when it comes to body aches, and stress is one of them. You see, when you’re stressed, your mind tenses up and so do your muscles! This leads to inexplicable body aches and sores that don’t seem to let up.
People often complain about an upset tummy when they’re stressed. That’s because stress can worsen acid reflux symptoms! When you’re faced with many stressors, you may feel an increased need to drink coffee (even on an empty stomach!) or you might also experience sudden cravings for spicy and oily foods—both of which are not tolerated well by your stomach with its altered condition when you’re stressed out.
Remember that time you chomped on candy bars as you crammed for an exam? Or, maybe, that extremely busy week at work when you skipped some meals? Yep. We feel you. Maintaining a healthy weight when you’re stressed out can be tricky. Some react to stress by eating more, while others would eat less or ultimately lose their appetite. This sudden switch in your eating pattern can greatly impact your weight, but closely watching what you’re eating, consciously having balanced meals, and snacking on nutritious foods (fruits like apples and bananas are great choices!) per day will help you get back on track.
Skipped Periods & Changes in Discharge
Missing a period or noticing changes in your normal discharge can be an extremely alarming experience for many women. Trust us, we know. But before you panic, you should know that missing periods or observing a change in the color of your discharge is more common than you think.
Not getting enough sleep, skipping meals, and increased stress levels can make your reproductive hormones go haywire. This may result in delayed ovulation and you might get your period later than expected. But don’t worry—it’s impossible for stress to stop your period forever.
Now, as though changes in your cycle are not enough, stress can also impact the color and odor of your discharge, since high levels of stress make you more prone to infections that can cause abnormal-looking and smelling discharge.
So if you want some peace of mind, you can always schedule an appointment with your OB-Gyne just to make sure that everything’s in check down there.
You got this, girl!
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It has been proven that mindfulness techniques such as breathing methods, guided imagery, and acknowledging bodily sensations can help people reduce their stress levels, boost their memory, and improve their focus—among many others. So if your mind feels a little bit overwhelmed lately, take some time off to give these beginner-friendly mindfulness exercises a try.
As much as we hate it, stress is an inevitable part of our lives. But despite how common it is, stress will never be healthy and can even take a toll on your physical health. So if you feel as though you’ve been on the edge lately, start with these relaxing activities you can try at home.