There are a couple of ways that stress can come into your life. One is like a freight train where you feel yourself sweating, finding it hard to focus, and feeling pulled into a million different directions. The other way, which seems to be more common for us, is for it to inch its way into our lives without us really knowing it’s there. We find we’re a bit more irritable, we get signs from our body, and our energy seems to drop. Only then do we start to think about the stress level in our lives.
If you have any of these recurring symptoms, it might be worth taking a look at your work-life balance to help yourself de-stress and center.
Chronic stress leaves your muscles in a constant state of tension which leads to aches and pains. We feel pains in our neck from hours of sitting in front of our laptop, not realizing how tense our body is. We’ve started setting a timer every hour to remind ourselves to stand up, stretch, and maybe take a screen break with a cup of green tea.
One of the first signs of stress for us, is belly-aches and changes in our digestion. Stress can cause cramps, bloating, inflammation, and even loss of appetite. Scientists are still learning how connected our guts are to our brains with some calling our digestive system our ‘second brain’. Therefore, it makes sense that your gut and your digestion would be affected by increased stress.
When you’re stressed it’s harder to focus, because your body is producing stress hormones that energize certain areas of the brain (that are needed for emergencies) while suppressing others. This feeling is often described as ‘foggy’ or ‘brain fog’.
Listen, we love a good nap as much as the next person but if you feel more sluggish than usual and are craving your sheets after a good night’s sleep, it could be because you’re stressed. Feeling stressed can amp up your energy but it’s temporary which is why you feel that ‘crash’ feeling after or why your body is craving rest more than normal.
We’re not sure how it happens but when our stress levels rise, we seem to look down to find sweet snacks in our hands. It’s like the sweets fairy appeared, unwrapped a chocolate bar, and then disappeared. Not only do our eating habits change but stress actually speeds up the rate that fat cells are formed in your body. But for some of us, we lose our appetite or forget to eat. Unusual weight changes can be a key indicator of changes in stress levels.
One of the best things you can do if you’re feeling like stress is taking its toll on your body is to visit your health professional. It might be as simple as adjusting your diet or finding a new routine to get more sleep. Know that we all get stressed now and then and it’s a good thing to take stock of your body and your mental health regularly!
Interested in reading more about mental health? Read our article ‘5 Foods to Improve Your Mental Health‘ next!