For most, stress is an unavoidable part of our daily lives. Few people go through life without stress, and yet many people are not aware of the magnitude of physical ailments that occur when stress affects the body.  Here are a few physical symptoms of stress you can look out for before they become chronic issues.


4 Physical Symptoms of Stress: A stressed woman holding her head in her hands.

4 Physical Symptoms of Stress: Stress can impact your immune system, which makes you sick, which just adds to your stress.

Inflammation in the body or on the skin can be caused by many factors, including food allergies, food sensitivities, dehydration, and bacteria.  However, many people overlook that stress can be a major cause of their inflammation.  Stress lowers the body’s immune system, which is the body’s major defense against sickness.  When your immune system is compromised, you are more likely to contract sicknesses and inflammation.  It is important to note that inflammation is part of the healing process, and that parts of your body may become inflamed if your body is targeting a site to heal.  If you experience frequent colds, headaches, skin irritations like hives, fevers, loss of appetite, fatigue, stiffness, or chills, you could be experiencing inflammation.  What’s worse is that these symptoms can increase your stress levels even more.  If you feel any of these symptoms, it is important to take a step back and examine what you can change to reduce inflammation.  For the stressed person, this usually includes a change in lifestyle. Try ditching coffee for caffeine alternatives like green tea to reduce caffeine intake and give yourself a calming effect. Those with stress breakouts can doubly benefit from a small habit change like this, as green tea and acne have proven to be a positive combo—green tea helps cut down on inflammation in the skin, calming painful pimples and other skin irritations.

Excessive Weight Gain or Loss

4 Physical Symptoms of Stress: A stressed woman holding her head in her hands.

4 Physical Symptoms of Stress: Many people react to stress by increasing their intake of unhealthy foods.

Weight gain and loss can be difficult to measure in terms of stress, because everyone’s body is different.  Genetics play a key role in the body’s ability to control weight, and inherited or contracted autoimmune disorders can complicate the process.  However, there are both internal and external factors to watch out for in regard to weight and stress.  The first, and most obvious, has to do with your diet.  Many people react to stress by increasing their intake of unhealthy foods, including highly processed foods and sugar.  It has been suggested that overeating is an instinctual reaction to stress in order to store fat reserves.  On the other hand, sudden loss in appetite can also be a cause for concern.  Test a sugar alternative like Stevia to satisfy your sweet tooth.  If you notice that you have an unusual adversity to food and it is causing you to lose weight too quickly, it is time to examine whether your stress symptoms require professional attention.

Upset Stomach

A common symptom of stress is an upset stomach.  This can come in the form of nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea just to name a few.  Usually, the stressed person easily diagnoses the uneasy feeling of nausea because he or she is consciously worried about something, giving meaning to the term “worried sick.”  Bowel movements, however, may be less straightforward.  If you have unusual bowel movements, you may first want to increase the amount of fiber intake, as well as water and probiotics. Eat a healthy diet filled with fresh vegetables and fruit. If your symptoms do not improve, it is time to set a new routine for yourself or consult a doctor.

Trouble Sleeping

Lack of sleep tends to be the root of all evils when it comes to stress.  Sleep is essential for the healing process of your body.  While you sleep, your body releases hormones and chemicals that repairs muscles and joints, and helps the mind process thoughts through dreams.  While sleep is supposed to alleviate the stress accumulated throughout the day, excess stress can make sleep difficult, if not impossible.  If you have trouble sleeping, try changing your routine.  Stay off of your phone or other portable devices an hour before bed, drink a relaxing tea, and even meditate quietly before bed.  If your problems persist, consult a sleep doctor to get professional help.

Stress may be a part of life, but it doesn’t need to overwhelm yours.  If you have excess stress in your life and it is not responding to changes in your routine, you may want to consult a doctor.  Remember that stress is often a precursor to depression, so if you feel like you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional who can provide the right assistance immediately.