For many of us, stress is just a byproduct of our everyday lives that we've learned to cope with, but it's important to deal with and resolve the causes of stress, because when left unchecked, stress can trigger mood disorders that can affect our mental health. According to Tim Hipgrave, Nuffield Health's emotional health lead, emotional stress can manifest itself in telltale ways, many of them physical. Read on for six physical signs that your mental and emotional health may be buckling under the strain.
Lack of Energy
Stress doesn't just affect your mind, it also affects you physiologically by releasing the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream, which mimics physical exertion by accelerating your breathing and heart rate, and leaves you feeling unduly tired and lethargic. Stress can also be to blame for lack of sleep as it disrupts your body's ability to regulate its sleep-wake instincts, causing insomnia.
Teeth grinding can cause major problems with your oral health including jaw ache, permanent tooth damage, and headaches. Stress-induced tooth grinding is linked to heightened activity in your subconscious when you're asleep; as you're not alert, your body uses your mouth as the physical outlet for the increased stress.
Getting Sick Easily
When stress triggers the release of cortisol into the bloodstream, it inadvertently hinders your immune system's regular function. One important way it does this is by suppressing the release of the hormone DHEA, which supports immune function.
Changed Eating Habits
It's no shocker that when we're stressed, we tend to reach for short-term food fixes for our problems, but stress can affect our eating habits by making us grab the nearest chocolate bar. "Stress eating" is often triggered by the release of cortisol, which increases your appetite and coinciding with your low morale, leads you to reach for typical comfort foods. On the other hand, many who suffer from stress also experience a loss of appetite, which is believed to be linked to the presence of a corticotropin-releasing hormone that suppresses appetite.