physical signs of stressYou undoubtedly are well aware of how stress affects your mental health, as that connection is obvious. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are physical signs of stress that manifest before you may even realize how much stress you are enduring. You may think your physical discomforts are due to other factors, but in fact there might be long term effects of persistent stress and anxiety that you will need to deal with sooner or later. Below you will find a few of the most common physical signs of stress and ways to manage.

After years of providing holistic psychotherapy and training for people through meditation, yoga and self care practices, I have seen first hand the tie between the mental strain of stress and how it affects the physical body.

According the Mayo Clinic’s medical experts, chronic stress will hurt your health. Chemicals that are created in your body called glucocorticoids, one of which you may have heard of is called cortisol, are essential for keeping the immune system operating and keeping inflammation down in the body when there is a sense of thread or danger. The problem with these naturally created chemicals is that when there is an experience of chronic stress, there can be an over-production of these emergency chemicals which can lead to  the development of all kinds of physical and mental health conditions. Let’s consider some of these harmful manifestations and what health and wellness experts suggest can be helpful.

Muscle Pain

Increased stress will cause muscle tension, and as a yoga instructor for over 20 years I can tell you from experience working with hundreds of students, most people do not notice the muscle tension they have until they are in dire pain or even crippled by it.

It’s a wise practice to tune in and make it a practice to notice even mild levels of tension in your neck and your back before it develops into pain. Chances are that you are feeling stressed and are adopting particular positions that can cause serious damage to your muscles and your joints over time.

A good way of dealing with this is committing an exercise routine that includes consistent stretching before and after your strengthening or cardio exercise. I recommend you try gentle yoga postures in the morning. Take time, breathe deeply and slowly as you stretch. Bring awareness to maintaining healthy posture during the day, lifting through the crown of your head and bring shoulders back to avoid slumping. Be careful about sitting in the same position for more than 15 minutes. Shift your position regularly, get up and move, stretch into opposite directions of your sitting position when taking walking or bathroom breaks. 

Relaxation techniques in various forms of therapy have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, For those who develop chronic pain conditions, relaxation training and practice have been shown to improve mood and daily function.

Some people benefit from taking a magnesium supplement for healthy and supple muscles. Talk with your healthcare practitioner if this kind of a supplement might be a good choice for your body.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects more women than men, and can be very painful and inconvenient to say the least. Cramping, diarrhea, and other intestinal symptoms may be physical signs of stress. If you have noticed that you are no longer able to eat your favorite foods, are running to the bathroom more often than is normal or healthy, chances are that you need to deal with the problem. 

Attention to the foods you are eating and tuning into your body’s distinct reactions and needs are key to finding the answer to relief. But we know that IBS is most often directly related to stress levels. Attention to your mental stress using natural remedies to manage the body-mind response to stressors can have an impactful and positive effect on the health of your digestive system. 

Insomnia

Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep is a common symptom of stress and lack of sleep will cause a host of physical ailments to follow. When anxiety awakes you in the middle of the night, without turning lights on you can move into another room where you can practice some relaxing breathing exercises and then return to your bed rather than tossing and turning.

A lot of combating insomnia is a process of not giving into the runaway thoughts that come with awaking in the middle of the night. Accepting the interruption to your sleep without giving way to frustration is key. It’s wise to cut the caffeine during the day, create a regular nighttime wind-down routine before bed and turn off your electronics an hour before you hit the hay. Adopting a meditation practice just before bed can help you to allow your brain to slow down and your body to relax before you turn in for the night.

Headaches

Sometimes headaches have biological reason and it’s wise to get checked out by your doctor. You also might try keeping a food journal and noticing if certain foods seem to preceded the headaches you are experiencing. Otherwise, muscle tension can lead to headaches so stretching and exercising can help to combat this.  Having a morning or evening walk can make a huge difference in your life, and help you take your mind off the problems that cause you to get stressed out.

People often mistake the psychosomatic symptoms of stress with something very dangerous, but in most cases, it is often your body attempting to communicate that there is something going on in your life that is causing high levels of stress., You can be reassured by first ruling out any true medical issues. Apart from medically based reasons for these physical symptoms, you can feel empowered to create a stress management plan to help alleviate the physical symptoms and manage the mental and emotional stress you are feeling as well. 

If you’d like to schedule a consultation to explore how you can develop a self care plan to combat your stress contact me here and I’ll be happy to meet with you to provide resources and strategies.