Stress; we have all felt it. Maybe you’ve found yourself caught in the middle of chasing deadlines, juggling a few tasks or even jobs, paying bills and taking care of your children all at the same time. Your heart rate starts to rise, you feel nauseated, experience sweaty palms and possibly have trouble sleeping at night.
Stress, a mere six-letter word, is taking an enormous toll on the physical, emotional and mental health of a growing number of people in this competitive generation today.
A recent study reported that many Malaysians suffer from stress-related diseases due to being overworked. In 2013, almost 70 percent of employees in Malaysia experienced an increase in stress-related sickness due to the global economic crisis. Money and work have been cited as leading causes of stress. And this is a world-wide phenomenon.
The Japanese even have a term for it – ‘Karoshi’ which means death caused by overwork and stress. While in Sweden, work hours have been reduced to only 6 hours per day. Death caused by strokes, heart diseases, hypertensions, stress-induced seizures and even suicides can stem from chronic stress.
How Can You Tell That You’re Stressed?
You may be experiencing stress without realising the effects it may be having on your body and health. Here are some signs that you should look out for:
Acne is now more than just a teenage nightmare
If you wake up one day with your face covered in pimples and you’re pretty sure it’s not triggered by any allergens, the blame falls on stress. This is often due to a hormone called cortisol secreted to combat stress, and it causes overproduction of oil at the hair follicles. Hence, don’t be surprised if you wake up with acne in your 30’s! We understand how woeful acnes can be. Here are 4 ways to help clear your acne naturally.
Depression and suicidal thoughts
Serotonins are the hormones that elevate your mood, and fight the imbalanced brain chemical activity. Stress tends to deplete these happy hormones and can lead to depression. If allowed to progress, suicidal thoughts may ensue at a later stage.
Chronic pain, body aches and abdominal cramps
Experiencing body aches, joint pains or muscle aches out of the blue?
“When you are stressed, your body produces hormones that
increase muscle tension and pain sensitivity.”
- Jay Winner, M.D, Author of Stress Management Made Simple
Stress can also affect your physiological system, showing up as gastrointestinal or digestive problems such as abdominal cramps, diarrhoea or sometimes even, constipation, besides gynaecological diseases.
Making small and gradual changes in your lifestyle can go a long way. For example, eat in smaller portions of balanced meals at regular intervals, staying hydrated with at least 8 glasses of water daily, and exercising regularly.
Your hair is falling out
Hair loss is a common problem due to physiological stress such as lack of sleep, poor dietary habits, or medications that accelerate graying of hair or hair fall. This normally affects the hair growth cycle where people begin to lose hair weeks or months after the stressful event has occurred.
This is known as ‘Telogen effluvium’ - when a large number of hair is in the resting phase for 3 to 4 months before it falls out and gets replaced by new strands of hair. However, if you are able to address the stressful event, the hair growth cycle will resume as normal. Eating these foods will help keep your crowning glory healthy and strong.
Frequent headaches, colds and migraines
The most common type is ‘tension type headache’ induced by stress that’s accompanied by sharp dull pain, pressure at the back of the head and neck.
Insufficient sleep and poor nutrient intake will weaken your immunity, hence catching colds frequently when you’re under extreme stress is a common occurrence. Check out these 8 ways to better sleep and try these natural remedies for cold and flu.
Deprived of sound sleep
Stress robs you of sleep too. Have you experienced tossing and turning late into the night, unable to fall asleep? Chronic stress can lead to excessive levels of cortisol, and this can disrupt your sleep patterns.
You’re gaining weight
Sudden spurts of weight may shock you. Many of us under extreme stress end up binging on junk food, sugary or fatty food to fight the overwhelming stress. They’re called comfort food for a reason. Chronic stress will increase cortisol levels making you feel hungry faster. Increased levels of stress hormones will increase insulin levels and cause a drop in blood sugar levels. Hence, you will have more cravings for junk food. Learn how to curb sugar cravings and snack healthy!
If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it could be an indication to slow down, take a step back and relax. Manage your stress levels, keep it in check and keep yourself healthy!
Feeling anxious or nervous? Channel that energy to your advantage and calm your nerves with this 1-minute yoga technique.