13 reasons why controlling stress is key
A list of the thirteen most common stress symptoms and their impact on our health
Are feelings of being “stressed out” causing your state of malaise? It may sound like the blanket reply your Mother gave the last time you cried about your adult-onset acne, but like other things- Mom’s probably right. Research on the Mind/Body connection has shown what we’ve long since known to be true- stress is the root of (most) evil— at least the evil symptoms we’d like to stop experiencing. Save yourself from telling Mom she’s wrong- go through our stress symptom checklist for some insight on those woes. You know, the ones you’re running through the six with…
Cliff Notes Summary on Short-Term Stress: All things ranging from road rage to being “ghosted” to paying your bills and angry bosses can trigger stress. The Stress Response: adrenal glands spring into action to produce extra high amounts of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The following checklist is limited to the symptoms of high cortisol levels and short-term stress.
1) Acne: Supply and Demand- when demand is high for cortisol, the demand for other hormones goes low. The balance of hormones is easily disrupted & hormone imbalance is the number one culprit for blackheads, pimples, and the like. If only we could re-live being a teenager in more enjoyable ways.
2) Increased appetite and cravings for high sugar, high carb foods. Cortisol likes to bully blood sugar. High Cortisol raises blood sugar, which in turn boost insulin levels. But what goes up must come down. We all know what happens with a sugar crash— you want more sugar, hello cravings.
3) Weight gain: especially abdominally and around the midsection- muffin tops. Thanks to those sugar cravings and Cortisol’s natural ability to fatten you up for battle. Protecting your organs by padding you with armor around the middle perhaps?
4) Headaches & Pain: Prolactin regulates the body’s sensitivity to pain- high cortisol increases prolactin levels.
Anxiety: High Levels of stress hormones can give you the jitters and increase your heart rate. That's on top of being anxious about whatever stressed you out in the first place.
5) Depression: Just in case whatever that thing is that you’re stressing about isn’t enough to make you feel down and out, the stress response makes sure of it by suppressing serotonin production.
6) Low libido: Often referred to as “anti-viagra”, high cortisol means low other hormones - like the ones that impact the libido
7) Digestive issues: Because anxiety isn’t enough to cause stomach upset. The digestive tract is directly affected by the stress hormones - too much can lead to constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, basically everything you’d need Pepto Bismol for.
8) Serotonin, which is actually produced in the gut and linked to gut health, is suppressed.
9) Difficulty concentrating/Brain Fog: Adrenaline is a Neurotransmitter - the high doses are sending signals to your brain to be on the lookout for danger — making it difficult to focus on tasks. High Cortisol levels have been shown to actually rewire your brain, as well as kill brain cells, making higher levels of thinking that much more difficult.
10) High blood pressure: Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure may have been necessary for fight or flight but, do us more harm than good in modern day health.
11) Insomnia & Fatigue: Typically, Cortisol levels drop at night—allowing for sleep and restoration for tomorrow — Cortisol levels rise to their peak at around 8 am- giving us the getup and go to get up and out. When Cortisol levels are high that means they’re not allowing for that necessary dip to lull you to sleep— you’re getting up and going even when you don’t want to, and can’t when you do want to— sound familiar?
12) Flushed face, thinning skin, bruising, and muscle weakness: It may seem counterintuitive that in times of fight or flight your muscles would be weak, however, frequently high levels of cortisol actually destroy muscle mass, and break down collagen. Both of which hinder the production of new cells and the building of new muscle virtually impossible.
13) Low immunity, slowed healing, ability to recover:High Cortisol level production means less priority elsewhere like fighting nasty germs and defending the immune system. Additionally, lack of sleep, digestive problems and even the emotional impacts of stress, all affect immunity and make us more vulnerable to bugs and viruses.
Symptoms such as these can, of course, be brought on by a myriad of different things. Stress is something that is very unique and what triggers it can differ widely from person to person. Going through this checklist may help identify whether you’re handling stress in a positive or negative manner, which is the first step in creating a plan to deal with it in a healthier way. The upcoming installments of our stress series will share strategies for how to deal with short-term stress as well as details on chronic stress and our action plan on how to kick stress in the butt.