Seven Ways Stress Manifests in the Body

By Kate Harveston – December 1, 2019

Stress takes a toll on your quality of life. It can cause emotional and mental difficulties such as anxiety. Also, chronic stress causes physiological changes that can result in ongoing health woes.

What are the physical symptoms of stress? How does it typically manifest in the body? Once you know the signs, you can seek ways to decompress.

1. Grinding Your Teeth

When you feel fear, you unconsciously clench your teeth to absorb a blow. However, stress causes a condition called bruxism, which causes you to constantly tighten or grind your teeth.

Grinding your teeth can cost you a fortune in pricey dental work. Excessive clenching wears down enamel, making you prone to cavities. Additionally, clamping down too hard can crack teeth. This habit also causes aching jaws and headaches.

2. Racing Heartbeat

Your body releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol to prepare you for fight-or-flight. While this can help you if a mugger threatens you in a dark alley, it creates negative health outcomes when you’re always stressed.

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know your heart pounds and races. Over time, this stresses the arteries and veins surrounding the heart, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Chronic stress also changes the way your blood clots, further elevating risk.

3. Bothersome Breakouts

Stress leads to hormonal changes, which can result in acne. Many people, especially women, experience a pimple or two during such fluctuations. But tension can cause unusual, widespread breakouts.

You can treat occasional breakouts with over-the-counter acne creams. Seek medical attention if pimples become cystic or interfere with your quality of life. Prescription medications can banish blemishes but may take time to work. The earlier you begin using these products, the quicker you see improvement.

4. Perpetual Exhaustion

Currently, medical researchers disagree on whether adrenal fatigue qualifies as a real condition. Your adrenal glands sit atop your kidneys and release the stress hormone cortisol. Scientists hypothesize that when you experience chronic stress, your body stops releasing adequate levels of this hormone, resulting in tiredness.

Whether or not you have an underlying hormonal imbalance, chronic stress can exhaust you. Try practicing good sleep hygiene by going to bed and rising at roughly the same time each day. If sleep proves to be elusive, get up and sip chamomile or lavender tea while reading quietly, but not on a device. The blue light emitted by cellphones and tablets disturbs regular sleep cycles.

5. Upset Stomach

Some people experience extreme gastrointestinal distress as a result of stress. If you often experience bouts of diarrhea and nausea, seek medical care to rule out an underlying disorder such as Crohn’s disease. However, if your doctor finds no such illness, consider your lifestyle.

Start practicing techniques like yoga and meditation to see if your symptoms alleviate. If not, consider seeking therapy to help you cope. You can also try an elimination diet to rule out sensitivity to certain substances.

6. Constant Pain

Did you know people who experience repeated abuse as children suffer from chronic diseases more frequently as adults? Few things are more stressful than fearing that the people who care for you may harm you.

Even if you don’t develop a chronic inflammatory condition from undue pressure, you can endure severe pain. Many people carry tension in their upper back and neck. Others develop low-back aches or headaches. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and massage can help rub away the agony.

7. Weight Gain

Some people forget to eat when they’re under stress. However, many respond by eating more as a coping mechanism, which can pack on added pounds quickly.

Research indicates excessive stress causes metabolic changes, influencing weight gain. One study revealed women who experience arguments at work or with spouses burn 104 fewer calories each day than non-frazzled women. You can pack on 11 extra pounds a year even if you change nothing else about your habits.


Related Articles

Learn More