Kuala Lumpur Post


The effects of stress on your body

Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realise it.

You may think illness is to blame for that irritating headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work.

But stress may actually be the cause.

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behaviour.

Being able to recognise common stress symptoms can help you manage them.

Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Common effects of stress on your body can include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Meanwhile, stress can be expressed through your mood in the following ways:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

As for behaviour, stress can commonly result in:

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

If you have stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have many health benefits.

Explore stress management strategies, such as:

  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Practising relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi or massage
  • Keeping a sense of humour
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Setting aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music.

Aim to find active ways to manage your stress.

Inactive ways to manage stress, such as watching television, surfing the Internet or playing video games, may seem relaxing, but they may increase your stress over the long term.

And be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine and alcohol, and the use of illegal substances.

If you’re not sure if stress is the cause or if you’ve taken steps to control your stress, but your symptoms continue, see your doctor.

Your healthcare provider may want to check for other potential causes.

Or consider seeing a professional counsellor or therapist, who can help you identify the sources of your stress and share new coping tools.

Also, get emergency help immediately if you have chest pain, especially if you also have shortness of breath, jaw or back pain, pain radiating into your shoulder and arm, sweating, dizziness, or nausea.

These may be warning signs of a heart attack and not simply stress symptoms. – Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service

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