We’ve all been there before. You’re juggling a million different things, your to-do list is a mile long, and you can’t seem to catch a break. But taking care of your body should take priority when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed. After all, your body’s working overtime to try and keep up with your busy lifestyle.
Stress is the human body’s response to any demand placed on it. When our body perceives a threat, it releases adrenaline and cortisol. What do these stress hormones do? Well, they raise our heart rate and blood pressure and give us more energy to deal with the perceived threat. This is known as the “fight-or-flight” response, a normal reaction that has helped humans survive for thousands of years.
However, in today’s fast-paced world, we often find ourselves in a constant state of stress. Our bodies are constantly bombarded with demands, and we don’t always have the opportunity to fight or flee. As a result, this chronic stress can spark serious health problems like heart disease, obesity, anxiety, and depression.
What are Some Common Causes of Stress?
Many different things can cause stress. Of course, some people may be more susceptible to it than others. Still, there are some common causes that affect most people at one time or another. These include:
- Family obligations (taking care of children or aging parents)
- Relationship problems
- Money troubles
- Job pressures (long hours, tight deadlines, etc.)
- Health concerns (chronic illness, pain, etc.)
- Natural disasters (floods, fires, etc.)
Different Ways Stress Can Affect Your Body
1. Frequent headaches and migraines
Stress can cause the muscles in your head and neck to tighten, leading to pain and discomfort. Stress can also cause you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth, leading to headaches.
In addition, the cortisol and adrenaline your body releases when you’re stressed can cause changes in your blood vessels, which can also contribute to headaches or migraines.
2. Digestive issues
Stress can also affect your digestive system and result in problems like indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation. This is because when you’re stressed, your body produces more stomach acid than usual. This excess stomach acid can then lead to digestive issues.
If you find that you’re having trouble with your digestion due to stress, there are some over-the-counter medications that can help relieve your symptoms.
Stress can also manifest itself in the form of breakouts. Cortisol can trigger an increase in oil production and inflammation, which, in turn, can damage the skin barrier, making it more susceptible to bacteria and other environmental stressors. This can result in clogged pores and an uptick in breakouts.
4. Weight gain or loss
Chronic stress can also cause weight gain or weight loss. When you’re constantly stressed, your body craves foods high in fat and sugar to cope with the added pressure. This often leads to overeating and eventual weight gain. On the other hand, some people lose their appetite altogether when they’re under too much stress. This can lead to unhealthy weight loss.
Chronic stress can throw off your body’s natural balance and cause long-term health problems.
How to take care of your body when you’re stressed
1. Get enough sleep
Sleep helps your body to recover from the day and to prepare for the next one. Getting enough sleep will help you feel rested and have the energy you need to handle stress.
Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation can worsen stress and lead to other health problems.
2. Eat healthily
It’s tempting to reach for unhealthy comfort foods when stressed, but your body needs nourishment to function properly. Eating junk food can make you feel sluggish and difficult to concentrate. Instead, avoid sugary and processed foods, and focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Exercise also helps to improve your overall health, and even just a few minutes of it can help to reduce your stress levels.
Even if you can’t make it to the gym daily, try to get some form of exercise each day, whether going for a walk or doing some yoga at home.
4. Take breaks during the day
This isn’t about taking a five-minute break to check your Facebook feed or send a few texts. This is about taking some time for yourself – even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes. Step away from your work, turn off your phone, take some deep breaths, and clear your mind. It doesn’t seem like much, but it can make a difference.
Taking a few minutes to relax and rejuvenate can help you feel better and be more productive when you return to work.
5. Avoid alcohol and drugs
Easier said than done, especially when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. But if you can make taking care of yourself a priority, it will pay off in the long run.
While it may seem like alcohol or drugs can help reduce stress in the short term, they actually exacerbate it in the long run. Alcohol and drugs can lead to dependency and addiction, making your stress levels worse.
6. Practice relaxation techniques
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to stress. However, there are several relaxation techniques that can help you cope with its physical and psychological effects. For example, deep breathing exercises can help to slow your heart rate and calm your nerves. Progressive muscle relaxation is about tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body to help reduce tension. And mindfulness meditation can help you focus more on the now and let go of stress-inducing thoughts.
Other popular techniques include yoga and aromatherapy. Find one that works best for you and practice it when stressed.
7. Seek professional help
If your stress levels are severe or if you have difficulty coping, seek professional help. A therapist can help you identify your stressors and provide support and guidance as you learn healthy ways to deal with them.
It’s essential to manage stress and take proper care of your body so that it doesn’t lead to bigger health problems. Next time you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and try one of these stress-busting methods. What are your thoughts? Share them with us in the comments!
Salman Zafar is an acclaimed blogger, editor, publisher and digital marketer. He is the founder of Blogging Hub, a digital publishing portal with wide following across the world.