5 Sneaky Ways Stress Affects Your Body

  • Copy by: Jacqueline DeMarco
  • Feature Image By: Byrdie

Prolonged periods of stress due to a daily commute, a sick family member, or a toxic workplace can take obvious tolls on your mental health. While it is not difficult to identify causes of stress, it can be hard to pick up on the physical side effects. Your body does not respond well to stress and when absorbed by current problems, it’s all too common to ignore your physical health. Keep an eye out for these symptoms if you find yourself stressed, overtired, or anxious.

1. Clenching Your Jaw

If your teeth suddenly become more sensitive than normal to hot or cold foods, you may be clenching your jaw every time you have a meeting with your boss (or when you are in an equally stressful situation). When you clench your jaw, you grind your teeth, which wears down enamel and causes tooth pain. Are you getting headaches that seem to have no cause? This can also be caused by clenching your jaw.

2. Stomach Discomfort

How your stomach feels is often a very good indicator of how you are feeling emotionally. If you are persistently upset, then it is likely your stomach will be upset too. Scientists aren’t 100% certain about why stress has you running for the bathroom, but one belief is that anxiety causes changes in serotonin levels, which tells the stomach to respond with an upset feeling.

3. Body Aches

Does your body often feel like you overdid it at pilates? When you are stressed, your muscles tighten and then relax when you do. But if you never get the chance to relax, neither do your muscles. By permanently tightening them, your body will start to ache.

4. The Common Cold

You eat plenty of citrus fruit, yet you keep getting colds. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have found that if you have been under stress for more than a month, you are more likely to get sick.

5. Breakouts

Do you find your skin breaks out every time final exams roll around? Stress causes adrenal glands to stimulate sebaceous oil glands, which secrete more sebum, in turn causing breakouts. Stress can also cause increased blood flow and an expansion of capillaries, which makes skin appear more red and inflamed. And because you do not assimilate nutrients as well while stressed, the acne may be slower to heal. So yoga, not salicylic acid, might be the solution.

In order to ease the symptoms caused by stress you need to take actions to alleviate stress. Breathing techniques, eating the right foods, and improving sleep patterns are all proven to help. Speaking to a mental health professional is always worthwhile as are other stress-busting activities like yoga, playing with your pet, and finding ways to laugh.