9 Symptoms Of Stress And How To Treat Them Holistically
If we gave awards to years the way we did graduating seniors, 2020 would win “most likely to cause stress” hands-down. You might think you’re doing fine, but if you notice yourself developing some peculiar health symptoms, pay heed. Overwhelming emotions tend to manifest in your body even if you don’t voice them aloud.
The following are common symptoms of stress, and how to treat them holistically.
1. Poor sleep
Stress often manifests in tossing and turning. Unfortunately, some of the coping mechanisms you may try can exacerbate the problem. Cellphones have replaced books on many nightstands, but the blue light from these screens can interfere with melatonin production. Without this vital sleep hormone, your circadian rhythms fall out of whack, creating ongoing insomnia.
If you can’t rest, you have several holistic options. One method involves creating a bedtime ritual — leave your phone to charge in the kitchen and take a bath. Pour yourself a cup of calming herbal tea like lavender and valerian and curl up with a book or practice yoga in bed to unwind.
2. Grinding your teeth
Did you crack a molar to the point it required dental intervention? Grinding your teeth, or bruxism, indicates you need to relieve some tension. However, because the unconscious habit can cause potentially costly problems — raising your stress levels — try at-home remedies and contact your dentist as soon as you notice it.
Your dentist can show you jaw-relaxing exercises and review techniques like massaging your jaw with a warm, wet washcloth. They can also fit you with a mouthguard to protect your pearlies if you suspect you grind your teeth while asleep.
3. Lower back pain
Lower back pain can originate from poor posture, but it can also arise from excessive stress. Your lower back attaches your spine to your hips, and a ton of connective tissue and meridians run through this region. Any discomfort from inflammation has a direct line to your brain through your spinal cord, where it lights up your pain sensors like a holiday tree.
Yoga is an excellent remedy for many lower back problems, but you need to treat yourself gently. Seek a practice such as yin or restorative yoga that focuses more on healing than on bending yourself into impossible poses. This method also works for posture-related agony. Your connective tissues form adhesions when you sit incorrectly for extended periods, but stretching releases them.
Headaches also rear their ugly heads when you’re under stress. You might get the tension variety, or if you are prone to migraines, excess pressure can trigger disabling attacks. Discomfort along the sides of your head can also indicate teeth grinding that occurs during sleep — you don’t notice your jaw clenched when awake, but the ache lingers.
5. High blood pressure
What tells your heart to beat? Your brain. When it’s under stress, the neurological phone lines that control the tiny muscles lining your arteries send nasty voicemails. They inform your body that the onslaught continues long after your micromanaging boss retreats to their corner office. As a result, your blood pressure stays high.
You need to reduce the stress in your life to begin the rewiring process in your brain. However, if you notice this alarming symptom, you do run an elevated risk of heart disease. Take care of your ticker by cutting down on sodium, saturated fat, and alcohol, all of which can increase the adverse cardiovascular effect.
6. Weight gain
When you’re under stress, your body amps up cortisol production. This stress hormone suppresses appetite in the short term — such as if you have to run from an angry bear. However, when no relief occurs, it also tells your body to prepare for a prolonged seize by hoarding resources like calories.
The result? You snack even when you don’t feel hungry. Plus, your body often craves calorie-dense foods like doughnuts that provide quick energy with plenty of padding. Slow down and try to eat more mindfully — avoid snacking at your desk or in front of the TV.
7. Loss of sex drive
You only have so much energy, and when your brain skips from one responsibility to another with no break, sex can start to feel like another chore you know you “should” do. Plus, physical manifestations of singing “Under Pressure” in the forms of body aches may make your partner’s caress feel like a sucker punch. Try easing into the mood by learning how to give each other a massage — the practice heightens physical intimacy while relieving tension.
8. Frequent infections
Stress sends your hormones out of whack, increasing inflammation that your body treats like an invader. Plus, lack of sleep gives you less time to generate healing cytokines while you slumber. As a result, you tax your body’s natural defenses, and few resources remain when you encounter the latest bug. Hello, colds and flu.
9. Memory problems
Your mind can only handle one problem at a time — think back to the last time you got lost while driving. You might have had trouble adding two plus two while trying to navigate your way back to your route.
The same thing happens with stress. If you are handling one challenge, like preparing for the Bar exam, you might want to reconsider taking on new work responsibilities or a challenging meal plan. Otherwise, you risk overwhelm — and more pressure, as you scramble to avoid letting anyone, including yourself, down.
Combat These 9 Stress Symptoms Holistically With Treatment and Self-Care
If you notice any of the nine physical symptoms of stress, give the holistic suggestions above a try. You can manage many of these adverse health effects by easing the pressure.
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