What is Stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to physical, mental, or emotional pressures. It affects each person differently, and some people may experience physical and emotional symptoms as reactions to stressors.
Most of us are familiar with stress. Whether you’re a top-level executive, a stay-at-home parent or a high school student, stress is often part of the drill. While you might recognize some of the more common warning signs that pressure is building to unhealthy levels — things like difficulty breathing and rapid heartbeat — other stress signals may go unnoticed.
Pumping out stress hormones requires significant brain power. To manage the flood of stress hormones and focus on fears, your brain puts memories for everyday things on the back burner.
So if you’re chronically stressed, it can be tough to focus. You might not be able to remember what you just read or lose your train of thought in the middle of a sentence. You might even forget to turn off the coffee pot.
Stress can literally hurt your head. In fact, stress is a primary trigger for run-of-the-mill tension headaches as well as more debilitating migraine headaches.
Low back pain:
“We hold emotions in our muscular tissue, so it makes sense that stress affects our posture,” Dr. Dado says. “In fact, most low back pain is not a mechanical problem.” You might feel tightness in your neck and shoulders, which are commonly linked to stress, but your low back also takes a hit.
Stress and anxiety can be tough to stomach. The reason: You’re producing more stomach acid than usual, which can lead to digestive dilemmas ranging from heartburn and tummy aches to diarrhea. Already suffering from a digestive issue, such as irritable bowel syndrome? Stress can worsen your symptoms.
When you’re feeling stressed, all of that angst has to go somewhere. A lot of people expend that energy by unknowingly grinding their teeth while they sleep. Grinding can lead to pain in the face, neck and shoulders.
A tired mind is tough to shut down. “You can’t fall asleep because your mind is racing,” Dr. Dado says. And it makes sense: If you’re in fight-or-flight mode, the mind doesn’t feel safe to quiet down.
When your stress hormones go on overdrive, the brain chemicals that make you feel calm and happy take a back seat. The end result: You snap at your children, get short with your partner and blow up over something silly.