Stress is modern man’s thorn in the flesh. Pretty much every person in the entirety of Western culture deals with stress in some form or another. In many cases, stress is a chronic condition. How? Because, with the advent and so-called convenience of modern technology, modern society is never “off,” ever. In fact, and article by Refinery29 states that as many of 17 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 say that they are “always stressed.” Because of the rapidly growing chronic-stress phenomenon, science has started to report on the odd ways that stress can impact the human body. Besides the obvious side effects like headaches and weight gain, stress can manifest in other, unexpected ways.
Everyone knows that sudden stress can cause the heart to race. Imagine you’re in traffic and someone pulls out in front of you. It makes perfect sense that your heart might race. But, did you know that chronic stress can raise your heart rate in general? If your stress is manifested in your mind around the clock, you could be experiencing a chronically higher heart rate. Dr. George Slavich, director of the Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research at UCLA, recommends practical stress-management techniques as a way to cope and slow things down.
Stress can also promote strange food cravings. Many people experience cravings for foods high in fat and sugar when they experience periods of stress. That means chronic stress could equal chronic cravings for some folks. Happily, you may be able to combat this issue with dark chocolate. A study in the Journal of Proteome Research revealed that “people who ate an ounce and a half of the stuff every day for two weeks showed lowered levels of stress hormones in their bodies.”
If simply being stressed weren’t bad enough, stress can also cause stinkier-than-normal sweat. Workout sweat is mostly water, but stress sweat is made up of 20 percent proteins and lipids. These proteins and lipids result in sweat that’s smellier than normal sweat. What’s worse than the smell is the fact that it comes from both the armpits and the groin, and short of regular antiperspirants and the drive to reduce your stress levels, there’s not really anything you can do about it.
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Cortisol is commonly known as a stress hormone. What you may not know is that, “The stress hormone cortisol stimulates the body’s sebaceous glands, increasing skin oil, which then serves as food to acne-causing bacteria and promotes inflammation,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD. Zeichner is the director of clinical and cosmetic research for the Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology in New York. Basically, stress can cause breakouts. Clay masks to absorb oil, cool compresses, and stress management techniques are considered remedies for stress-induced skin flare ups.
Finally, stress can cause muscle aches. This means that chronic stress can cause chronic muscle aches. “We’re usually not aware of how we’re sitting, and that stress is amplifying the contraction in our muscles, causing pain in different parts of our body.” Researchers suggest that laughing is a good way to open up the body, reversing the contraction that will result in pain. Every so often, watch something funny or find a reason to laugh, because doing so will go a long way toward ending the muscle pain you experience as a result of your stressful lifestyle.
If you’re struggling with chronic stress, it could be killing you. At the very least, you’re likely suffering with some side effects that are making life more difficult. Pinpoint your daily stressors, and consider solid stress management techniques to manage your circumstances. You may not see instant results, but over time, these techniques can help you reverse your symptoms.
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