Silent Signs Stress Is Making You Sick
If you experience any of these symptoms, your stress might be making you sick:
- You break out in hives. If you notice you're suddenly covered in itchy red bumps, stress (not allergies) might be to blame. When your body experiences excessive stress, your immune system is disrupted and your body starts releasing the chemical histamine to fight off your ailment. If your stress doesn't go away, you essentially develop an allergic reaction, leading to hives. What you can do - put a cool, damp towel on the affected area. If that doesn't work, take an antihistamine.
- Your weight fluctuates. Stress can cause people to engage in unhealthy behaviors like overeating or undereating. But stress also triggers the release of cortisol, which impairs your body's ability to process blood sugar and changes the way you metabolize fat, protein, and carbs, leading to weight gain or loss. What you can do - Snack on nuts. This protein will help if you've been undereating, and the fiber will make you feel full if you've been overeating.
- You continue to get headaches. If you've never suffered from headaches but you're suddenly experiencing them, you might be too stressed. And if you're prone to migraines, stress can trigger them or make them worse. What you can do - Ibuprofen is usually recommended, but you can also dab lavender oil or peppermint oil on your temples when a headache starts.
- Your stomach feels 'off'. Stress can cause the body to produce more digestive acid, leading to heartburn. It can also slow the emptying of food from the stomach, which causes gas and bloating. What you can do - Take an over-the-counter antacid or try drinking ginger tea.
- Your hair is falling out. Losing a few strands of hair is normal, but stress can disrupt that cycle. Excess stress pushes a large number of hairs into a 'resting phase', which causes those hairs to fall out. Stress can also cause the body's immune system to attack your hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. What you can do - be patient. Once your stress levels return to normal, your hair should start growing back.
- You always have a cold. Stress suppresses the immune system, making it easier to get sick and harder to fight off bugs. What you can do - zinc supplements or lozenges can shorten the length of a cold by about a day if taken with 24 hours of feeling sick. You can also de-stress and boost your immune system with meditation, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep.