If you are running around with a busy job all the time, dealing with kids, trying to balance home and work and family and a social life, you are probably just a little bit stressed out.
Add to that the daily stressors like traffic, weather, cooking and meal prep and handling issues that arise at home, and it’s no wonder we are permanently stressed.
But this isn’t a good thing.
In fact, stress may be the root cause of several underlying health issues.
1. Making you Bloated
In order to complete proper digestion, we need to activate our parasympathetic nervous system.
When we are stressed however, this system is shut off and instead we are activating our sympathetic nervous system.
In this system, our digestion is also shut off.
Continuous stress, inhibiting parasympathetic activation and proper digestion means food is likely left to sit in our stomach, or is only partially digested, leading to gas, bloating and general stomach discomfort.
2. Preventing you from Sleeping
Just like we need the parasympathetic system to be activated for digestion, it also is known as the “resting” system, which we need to activate in order be able to sleep.
Being constantly in an aroused state, like that caused by stress, means we are not able to settle down, our brain continues ticking, and as you have likely experienced, sleep just doesn’t come.
3. Making you Sore
You did legs day last week, and yet it still feels, almost a week later, like it was just yesterday that you did all those squats and weighted lunges.
Recovery from exercise needs rest, proper nutrient replenishment and sleep. When you are stressed, sleep is inhibited, as is digestion.
This means your body is not getting the time it needs to facilitate muscle recovery, not to mention is unable to properly digest the food you are taking in to provide adequate nutrients to rebuild muscles and replenish energy stores.
4. Affecting your Mood
Do you feel easily irritated, get short tempered or find people and things bother you more than they used to?
Maybe the sarcasm of your boyfriend, which always used to make you laugh, now just makes you annoyed?
Maybe you find yourself lashing out on the phone to your mom every time she tries to simply check in on how you are doing?
If this sounds like what you are experiencing, there is a good chance stress is impacting your mood.
The stress response leads to the release of several hormones and chemicals within our brain.
The constant release of these when they aren’t supposed to be there however, can lead to the disruption of release of normal hormones and chemicals which control our mood, emotions and how we feel.
The result is a mixed up outcome that may leave you feeling irritable, angry, sad or anything in between.
5. Causing you Anxiety
If you feel like you permanently have the jitters like you have been drinking too much coffee, you guessed it: blame stress.
Stress is designed to make us excitable and anxious so that we can respond quickly to the stressor.
This doesn’t fare well though, when you are constantly fighting the stress response, and are unable to bring your body down out of fight or flight.
Practice meditation, yoga or breathing exercises to try to reduce the arrival of anxiety, and to minimize your symptoms.
If you are regularly experiencing any of these symptoms and just can’t seem to get a handle on it, consider whether stress may be to blame . . . and then figure out how you can de-stress!
By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH – Viand Nutrition