Chronic Stress And Your Health: The Physical Symptoms Of Long-Term Stress
Everyone experiences stress from time to time. It is the body’s way of reacting to situations that are perceived as harmful, even if those situations are not actually dangerous. When we perceive a situation as potentially threatening, our bodies react by entering a fight-or-flight mode, which triggers a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction causes our hearts to race, our blood pressure to rise, and our muscles to tighten. In small doses, stress is actually helpful. After all, it’s that fight-or-flight reaction that allows you to swerve out of the way instead of hitting a broken-down car in the middle of the road. However, our bodies aren’t built to sustain long-term stress. In fact, chronic stress takes a toll on our bodies and often manifests in a variety of emotional, cognitive, and physical symptoms. Below, we will discuss some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Insomnia. One of the most common symptoms of stress is the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep at night. Instead of relaxing and falling into a peaceful slumber, chronically stressed people stay awake into the wee hours of the night, unable to calm their racing minds. Stress can also cause frequent wake-ups, resulting in a disruptive night of sleep.
Frequent illnesses. It’s no coincidence that those back-to-back colds coincided with the big presentation you’ve been preparing for months. In fact, the two are likely directly related. Chronic stress weakens the body’s immune system, making us more susceptible to colds and infections.
Loss of libido. Perhaps you’ve attributed your lack of sexual desire to a natural part of the aging process. Loss of libido, however, is an extremely common symptom of long-term stress. When our bodies are constantly being pumped full of the stress hormone cortisol, sexual desire fizzles.
Low energy. Loss of energy and stress are related in a number of ways. First, insomnia is a common symptom of chronic stress. When you’re not getting restorative sleep at night, low energy is typically the result. Additionally, stress causes a weakened immune system, which results in low energy levels. Finally, the body exhausts itself by existing in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode, which often results in lowered energy.
Teeth clenching and grinding. Stress causes many people to grind and clench their teeth — sometimes unknowingly, and sometimes while sleeping. Chronic teeth clenching and grinding leads to headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and can even damage the teeth.
If you recognize some of these physical symptoms associated with long-term stress in your life, you should realize that you are able to lower the stress levels in your life, and ease these symptoms. Are you ready to take control of your life and your health? Contact me to learn how I can help you achieve a less stressful life.