7 Times Stress Is What’s Causing Your Health Problems
Feeling stressed out 24/7 is obviously not a good thing, but it’s difficult to realize just how toxic and horrible a chronic flow of stress hormones can be until it starts wreaking havoc on the rest of your well-being. Leaving your body in a constant state of fight-or-flight wears it down from the inside out, and soon enough, it starts to show. Below are seven major health problems that are caused by stress a surprising amount of the time, meaning a couple lifestyle changes could be the keys to real preventative care.
1. Metabolic Syndrome
There are three components to the stress-metabolic syndrome relationship. First, chronic stress leaves you craving all of the foods that don’t really serve your body — simple starches, sugars and unhealthy fats. Second, when you eat in this stressful state, your body burns calories a lot less efficiently, meaning you end up holding on to a lot more of what you just consumed than you typically would. And third, the body’s stress response encourages additional fat storage as an attempt to protect itself. Add all three of these things together, and you end up with a frustrating case of metabolic syndrome.
If you’re someone who struggles with chronic stress, that means that you probably don’t have the best handle on your stressors, right? Well, these consistent stressful situations and an inability to deal with them properly can increase your risk of developing depression. At its roots, depression is the result of a hormone imbalance in the brain, so it would make sense that a perpetual flood of stress hormones would impact the quantities and activities of the others at play. And the longer they have to battle it out, the most exhausted and out of sorts you’re going to feel.
3. Urinary Tract Infections
Most women first look to sexual hygiene as the reason they would come down with a pesky and painful UTI. And next would probably be consistent dehydration, followed by holding back on the urge to go to the bathroom too often instead of just getting up and going. But high levels of stress also predispose you to dealing with more urinary tract infections than other less-stressed women out there. So just like you need to down enough H2O every day and keep “down there” clean, you also need to keep a personal check on how wrung out you feel from stress — especially if the forces that cause it in your life are constant.
4. Coronary Disease
This might not seem like a health issue to think about right now, but it’s actually the best time to do so because now is when your body is most capable of undoing existing damage and changing course toward healthier ways. For millennials, coronary stress is most closely associated feeling seriously strained at work. If you have a job that demands a lot of you and gives you very little wiggle room in return, your burnout potential is high, and your heart health closely follows. So don’t be so quick to assume that your high-stress environment only impacts you when you’re on the job. It definitely follows you home… and beyond.
5. Dysfunctional Sleep
Surprise, surprise — excess stress in your waking life means restless sleep when it comes time to call it a night. Stress exacerbates the disruption of your natural sleep cycle, making it difficult to drift off when you want to and remain asleep throughout the night. It’s not uncommon for people who experience chronic stress to also struggle with insomnia directly related to that stress. The good news? When you remove the stressor from your life, your sleep cycle will naturally adjust to where it needs to be. It might take a little time, but it’ll get there.
6. Stomach Ulcers
Ooof. This one really hurts. You know how acute stress — as in flashes of major anxiety — can literally turn your stomach, leaving you nauseated until your work presentation is finished or your relationship breakup is finally over? Well, chronic stress disrupts your digestive system constantly, increasing the likelihood that you could develop a stomach ulcer. While most stomach ulcers are actually caused by a bacteria, a solid 15 percent of them are said to be stress-related. We don’t like those odds. Not to mention, stomach ulcers left untreated can lead to some pretty severe internal complications.
7. Migraine Headaches
Now, we’re not talking about a minor headache from time to time here. We’re talking about consistent and crippling pain from migraines and tension headaches because your body isn’t coping with chronic stress successfully. And it’s the annoying shit that pops up in everyday life that’s most likely to lead to these problems — not the big, stressful life events like getting married or moving homes or having kids. Luckily, these headaches will likely absolve themselves with a few lifestyle changes and improved coping skills when it comes to your major stress triggers.