Unless you’re obscenely rich or living in a tropical paradise, chances are that you feel stress – it’s simply a feature of life after the industrial revolution. We’re all familiar with the dry mouth, clammy palms (the hands, not the trees in the tropical paradise), the muscle tension.
But there are many other symptoms of stress that are less well known. Here are a few, as well as tips on how to deal with them:
1.Duh: being forgetful and unable to concentrate or make decisions is a symptom of stress. Or maybe you just lack confidence. Take a stance and stick with it. Better still, take a ten-minute break and a cup of herb tea.
2.The job’s a yawn: if you’re yawning a lot and don’t feel sleepy, you could be breathing shallowly, causing your body to trigger a yawn to get the oxygen it needs. Take some deep breaths.
3.Hair loss :There is reasonable scientific data to show that stress could alter the uptake of certain trace elements and amino acids essential for hair growth.This accounts for about 30 pc of hair loss in women but it can regrow if you correct the nutritional imbalance.
There is also experimental data to show that high stress levels can increase levels of the hormone prolactin in women and this appears to influence the uptake of testosterone and its metabolism. In individuals susceptible to hair loss, this can lead to thinning.
4.Sweating: another hormonal result of stress is that you sweat prolifically, especially under the arms, where the sweat is smellier than elsewhere on your body. The solution? Shower daily, use roll-on and learn to deal with stress.
5.Eyelid spasms: The eyelids contain a large number of sensory nerves and they are one of the body’s last areas to relax. Muscular spasms are caused by a build-up of lactic acid. When we’re stressed we breathe badly and lactic acid – a naturally occurring waste product in the body – is not carried away. This can also lead to stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
6.Stimulant abuse: many people use stimulants such as tobacco, caffeine and particularly alcohol to cope with stress. The problem with nicotine is that it kills you. The problem with booze and caffeine is that it plays havoc with your blood sugar levels, which in turn affects your concentration and moods. The solution? Ration your consumption of caffeinated drinks – remember that many soft drinks contain lots of it. If you hope to be useful in the afternoon, avoid any alcohol at lunchtime. Drink water steadily throughout the day. Do we need to tell you to stop smoking? Of course not.
7.Feeling parched: the dry mouth is caused by a decrease in the flow of saliva in the mouth. It can also lead to Death Breath, or halitosis, and dental problems. Drink water, and floss and brush your teeth regularly.
8.Sore muscles: when you’re stressed, your muscles contract and can end up feeling strained. The back muscles are particularly prone to this, and those in the lower back can go into spasm. You can ease the muscle pain by doing some squats, resting your arms on your knees. Hold for ten seconds.
9.Trouser coughs: breaking wind constantly might mean you should cut back on the chicken pies and bean soup, but it could also be a sign of stress. Wind, cramps, heartburn and diarrhoea are symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which can be triggered by anxiety. Cut down on caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks. Avoid bubble- and chewing-gum, and don’t drink anything through a straw.
10.Stressed out skin: The skin is the largest and most visible organ in the body so it tends to register stress fairly quickly. If your skin tends to be dry, stress makes it drier and if you are inclined to spots, stress will bring them out. For instance, under stress the body produces adrenaline, a hormone that can upset the balance of other hormones in the body, making acne worse and also causing flushes.
Also, long-term stress slows down the production of collagen and elastin fibres which give the skin its elasticity, resulting in sagging. In younger women the skin retains the ability to bounce back, but the healing process slows with age and, after 40, the effects of stress can be permanent.
11.Stomach problems :IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a common symptom of stress. The natural waving movement in the muscles of the gut that carries food along works overtime or slows down when you are under stress, and this can lead to pain and diarrhoea or alternating constipation and diarrhoea as in IBS.
Symptoms may be short-lived, but they can become chronic under persistent stress, when previously harmless foods can trigger a harmful chemical reaction in the body. Gluten in bread and pasta can produce anti-gliadin antibodies, chemicals that pour into the gut causing pain, diarrhoea, bloating and may also cause mood swings.
12.Jumpy legs: stress can cause an imbalance in the chemicals in your body, which makes your leg muscles jump. At night, take a couple of magnesium phosphate tissue salt tablets.
13.Cravings: While stress causes some people to lose their appetite, others crave chocolate or junk foods. Alan Hunter, an Edinburgh-based allergy specialist, says: `Stress puts pressure on all the systems of the body and if there is an existing weakness, such as a craving, then that is intensified. `Under pressure the body tries to regulate itself and you can satisfy it – temporarily – by eating the food you crave.’
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