Physical Symptoms Of Stress And How To Conquer Them

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By Josh Weiss-Roessler

stressedwomanIt doesn’t matter whether you’re a high-powered business executive or a senior in high school sweating your college applications—everyone experiences stress sometimes. Some amount of stress is healthy, but too much stress can take a toll on your body.

In a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 77% of respondents said they regularly experienced physical symptoms associated with stress. These symptoms can be anything from migraines to insomnia to nausea. Chances are, you’re part of that majority of Americans who regularly experience some physical symptoms due to stress. So what can you do to help minimize the negative effects? Try some of the following tips to overcome the stressors in your life.

Adopt a regular exercise routine. Exercise has been proven to help reduce stress because it causes your brain to release norepinephrine, a hormone associated with elevated moods, and dopamine, a chemical associated with the brain’s reward center. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you choose—anything that gets your heart rate up can help boost your mood and reduce both the physical and psychological symptoms of stress.

Don’t overeat… or forget to eat. Some people find themselves compulsively eating to cope with stress. On the flip side, some people lose their appetite when they’re particularly stressed out, and as a result end up skipping meals. However, both overeating and skipping meals can exacerbate stress symptoms like migraines and nausea. Be sure you’re eating three healthy meals a day, or at least eat smaller, healthy snacks. If you find yourself overeating, try keeping a food journal to make yourself more conscious of your dietary choices.

yogaposeTry meditation. Set aside even just a few minutes a day to sit with your eyes closed and clear your mind of all the things that have been worrying you during the day. If migraines have been a particular problem for you, you should try meditating in a room with the lights off. Meditation has been proved to decrease the negative effects of stress and anxiety, so it’s worth making it a regular part of your day if you find yourself constantly worrying.

Avoid products with caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol. A lot of people going through a stressful time experience trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and as a result find themselves turning to coffee or cigarettes during the day to help them stay awake. Some people will also drink a nightcap before going to bed because they think it will help them fall asleep. However, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can all disrupt your natural sleep cycle and exacerbate your insomnia. Try getting yourself back into a normal sleep routine by quitting or at least limiting your consumption of these three things.

Power down before bed. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s likely because you’re bringing all the emotional baggage from your day to bed with you. Some people try to wind down by reading, browsing the internet, or watching TV and bed, but unfortunately, these activities may cause you to associate your bed as a place of wakefulness. Find another routine to unwind before bed, and end your night electronics-free in order to get a better night’s sleep.

– Josh Weiss-Roessler is a freelance writer and co-owner of Weiss-Roessler Writing. He frequently covers health, fitness, and nutrition topics. Along with his wife, his one-year-old son, and his two tiny-but-ferocious dogs, he lives in Austin, Texas.