The word “stress” is thrown around rather liberally these days, and anyone who is dealing with the typical balancing act of everyday life will likely tell you that they regularly experience stress.  Stress on its own is not always a bad thing. Small amounts of stress can help you stay motivated and perform at a higher level, both at home and in the workplace. Some symptoms of stress, however, are signals to change your circumstances.  Physical reactions to severe stress may be sings of your body telling you to slow down, or to eliminate unhealthy relationships from your life. Over time, physical symptoms of too much stress can become severe, and may eventually lead to serious health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.  Paying attention to your body and what it may be telling you about your stress level is crucial to maintaining your physical and mental health. Here are six physical signs that you may need to work on destressing your life.  

Skin Changes

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and can be the first visible sign of something wrong.  A common symptom of excess stress is acne. Studies have confirmed a few reasons for this connection.  When people are feeling stressed, they are more likely to repeatedly touch their faces. This can spread germs and bacteria on the skin that clogs pores and creates pimples.  Other research indicates that high-stress levels affect hormone production, which can also result in increased acne. Additionally, for those that live with psoriasis, a skin condition that causes raised, scaly patches, flare-ups can be triggered by high stress.  Stress can also cause hair loss due to a change in hair follicle activity during high-stress times in your life.

Sleep Issues

Stress can affect sleep quality in several ways, the most obvious being that stressful circumstances often keep us up at night worrying and planning for the future.  This stress-induced insomnia leaves us feeling depleted during the day, and therefore less able to cope with stressful situations. In addition to insomnia, many who are under high levels of stress feel chronic fatigue during the day, even after a full night of sleep.  This might be because high stress levels are decreasing sleep quality, meaning that while you are sleeping your body and mind are not recharging as they should.  

Lowered Immune System

If you feel like you are constantly catching every cold that comes your way, you may be experiencing a lowered immune system due to high levels of stress.  One study found that people who reported high stress were more likely to experience adverse symptoms after receiving the flu vaccine. Additionally, people living with elevated stress levels are more likely to have lifestyles that are not conducive to strong immune health.  If you are overly stressed with work and home life responsibilities, you may be neglecting to eat a healthy diet or exercise regularly. These important activities can strengthen the immune system and improve many of the physical effects of stress. 

Problems with Digestion

Stress very obviously affects our gut.  If you have ever felt extremely nervous, frightened, or overwhelmed, you have likely experienced stomach pain or uneasiness as a result.  Constant stress can create an imbalance of healthy bacteria in the gut, which may lead to digestive issues. These symptoms can include pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.  Because gut health has been shown to be closely tied to immune health, it is no surprise that the same lifestyle factors can affect both. Aside from the direct effects of stress, gut health can be influenced by positive changes such as an improved diet and avoidance of alcohol. 

Changes in Appetite

While we are discussing the gut, a sudden increase or decrease in appetite can also be a sign of excess stress.  Many people lose their appetite when they are stressed, leading to unhealthy weight loss and a lack of vital nutrients.  Many others find themselves emotionally eating or binging on comfort foods to cope with the emotional and mental weight of high stress.  This can cause an unhealthy relationship with food and increase the risk of eating disorders, obesity, and depression.

Addiction

Addiction is both a physical and a mental health condition.  Many people struggling to cope with excess stress turn to drugs or alcohol as an escape from their circumstances.  This is only a temporary fix and may lead to many health issues in the future including a lifelong battle with addiction.  Additionally, substance abuse causes deteriorating mental health and makes difficult situations increasingly unmanageable.  

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, now is the time to seek help.  At Burning Tree Ranch, we specialize in long-term care that produces real results, especially for those who have experienced a relapse.  Here you will find a team of qualified and compassionate professionals, ready to help each client through a customized treatment program that addresses all aspects of addiction, including the identification of co-occurring disorders.  We know that the journey towards recovery doesn’t end with the conclusion of an inpatient program, which is why we provide extensive aftercare programs to best support our clients during their transition into lasting sobriety. We also know that addiction affects the whole family, and therefore loved ones are encouraged to participate in the recovery process and take advantage of all our support resources.  For more information, call us today at 972-962-7374.