4 Ways Stress Manifests Itself In Your Physical Health

Stress is a vicious cycle. While not all stress is bad, having significant, chronic or unnecessary stress can seriously affect your quality of life and impact physical health. It can manifest itself in your body in a multitude of ways.

The best way to stop symptoms that result from high levels of stress is to remove the root cause altogether, which is easier said than done. However, if left unaddressed entirely, your stress can be magnified by self-esteem issues caused by these initial symptoms.

In this article, we’ll look at how stress affects your health, plus tactics you can try to break the cycle. Hopefully, they can provide you with some peace of mind as you work towards a more relaxed lifestyle.

1. Sweating

In stressful situations, your body reacts by going into overdrive. As part of this, you may experience stress sweat. When your heart rate increases, your body raises its internal temperature, which causes you to sweat even more.

Moreover, stress sweat smells worse than other kinds of sweat, as it comes from the Apocrine glands, which cause a more pungent body odor. While humans evolved this response to ward off potential threats, it’s not helpful for a meeting with your boss, or a first date.

If you deal with chronic stress, you might have constant wetness that amplifies your stress and affects your self-esteem. Moreover, significant sweating can cause dehydration, which comes with its own set of issues like frequent headaches or fatigue.

Fortunately, you can try a few proactive solutions, like using antiperspirant or wearing a sweat proof undershirt. By taking proactive measures to combat sweat stains or wet armpits, you’ll be able to control your stress sweat better.

2. Hair Loss

One way stress causes hair loss is by your hair follicles going dormant. Significant, chronic stress can force your hair into the “telogen” or resting phase. After a few months of this, your hair may begin to fall out on its own through significant shedding or pull out easily during brushing or washing.

Another less common symptom is called Trichotillomania. “Pulling your hair out” is often a media cliche when something is particularly frustrating, but people who suffer from Trichotillomania have an uncontrollable compulsion to pull out their hair. This can cause bald patches and heightened anxiety as the person tries to break the habit.

Depending on what kind of hair loss you’re experiencing, there are a number of hair loss treatments that can help you regrow hair or help you wake the follicles back up. However, many of them can take three to six months to be fully effective, so combining them with other stress-reducing lifestyle changes is essential.

3. Heart Disease

High levels of stress are also linked to cardiovascular disease.

Your body’s fight-or-flight response will increase your heart rate, which in turn increases your blood pressure. In the short term, if you’re playing a sport or running from a dangerous situation, this can be helpful! However, if you are dealing with long-term stressors, this increase in blood pressure is linked to a higher risk of strokes, heart attacks or other cardiovascular events.

Not only does chronic stress increase the risk of heart disease, it often causes you to turn to unhealthy coping habits, such as smoking, overeating or increased alcohol consumption (which can increase your risk even more).

Going for a run is one of the best ways to help you deal with both of these issues. Running lowers your blood pressure and resting heart rate, and many people take it up while trying to quit smoking or other addictions. The adrenaline it provides can help curtail addictive urges or reduce stress in its own right.

4. Muscle Pain

When you’re experiencing stress, your muscles will tense up to protect you from injury. Once you are away from the stressor, your body will relax again.

However, if you have chronic stress or even an anxiety disorder, your body might not allow your muscles to relax again. You’ll experience the opposite effect intended and may feel pain and soreness across your body.

Long term, this effect can compound and manifest into chronic pain in your back, shoulders and legs. Eventually, people with chronic pain become more sedentary and may need to turn to medication to manage pain daily.

One way to get ahead of stress-related muscle pain is with stretching exercises like yoga, which relaxes the muscles and releases tension. You can also practice mindfulness exercises to reduce stress to prevent tension from happening in the first place.

We hope you find these tips helpful for understanding how stress affects your health. Do you have any other tips for managing and mitigating your stressors? Let us know!