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  • Writer's pictureMaria Diaz

5 Signs That Stress is Making You Sick and What to Do About It

Maria Diaz, LMHC, LPC, EMDR Certified Therapist

A Woman Sick due to stress
5 Signs That Stress is Making You Sick

Stress is often viewed as a normal part of life, something that everyone experiences from time to time. However, when stress becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can have serious consequences for both your physical and mental health. In fact, long-term stress has been linked to a wide range of health problems, from heart disease and high blood pressure to anxiety and depression.

Here are five key signs that stress may be making you sick:

1. Persistent Fatigue: Chronic stress can lead to feelings of exhaustion and tiredness that don't seem to go away, no matter how much rest you get. This can significantly impact your ability to function throughout the day and can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.

2. Digestive Issues: Stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system, leading to symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. This is because stress triggers the release of hormones that can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to digestive discomfort.

3. Headaches and Muscle Tension: Stress can cause muscle tension and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and jaw, leading to frequent headaches or migraines. These physical symptoms can be debilitating and can significantly reduce your quality of life.

4. Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: When you're stressed, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode, releasing adrenaline and cortisol to prepare you for a perceived threat. This can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise, putting added strain on your cardiovascular system over time.

5. Mood Swings and Anxiety: Constant stress can take a toll on your mental health, leading to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and even depression. If left unchecked, chronic stress can significantly impact your emotional well-being and overall quality of life. While it's important to recognize these signs of stress-induced illness, it's equally important to take proactive steps to manage and reduce your stress levels.

Here are some practical strategies to help you combat stress and protect your health:

1. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate mindfulness practices, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation into your daily routine to help calm your mind and reduce stress levels.

2. Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever, helping to release endorphins and reduce the levels of stress hormones in your body. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

3. Prioritize Sleep: Getting enough quality sleep is essential for managing stress and promoting overall well-being. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, limit screen time before bed, and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

4. Establish Boundaries: Learn to say no to tasks or commitments that overwhelm you and set boundaries to protect your time and energy. Practice self-care and prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

5. Seek Support: Don't be afraid to reach out for help if you're feeling overwhelmed by stress. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or counselor to gain perspective and support in managing your stress effectively.

By recognizing the signs that stress may be making you sick and taking proactive steps to manage your stress levels, you can protect your health and well-being in the long run. Remember that stress is a normal part of life, but it's essential to find healthy ways to cope and reduce its impact on your physical and mental health. Do you think you may be desensitized to stress? Learn more about the signs.

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