Nowadays, we are all busy people and we all know the feeling of pressure or stress in general… But at what stage does it go from that general day to day feeling to becoming a chronic symptom?
In this latest blog I review three common symptoms that happen to your body when suffering chronic stress.
1. Regular Illness
If you find that a runny nose or a cold is dragging on longer than it should be, then you may want to look at your immune system. You see, when you’re stressed your body shuttles resources away from your immune response as a coping mechanism (it is all about the body being efficient). What you must do is look at different stress relief activities and foods you can implement immediately to get your immune system back on track. Whether it is trying to get more hours sleep during the week, doing some mediation/yoga (calming movements), or being more selective and conscious with some of your nutrition decisions (increasing fresh fruit and vegetables, oily fish etc.). By doing this you can focus your body’s energy on building your immune system again.
2. Poor Digestion
The body’s main stress hormone is cortisol, and when it releases the “flight or fright” response something interesting happens; there is an increased blood flow into your limbs. The result of this is then poor blood flow to the centre of your body, or more critically the digestion tract. A common response when digestion isn’t working as it should be is constipation or diarrhoea. Focus on foods that are high in Vitamin B (folate- dark green leafy veg, liver) and Vitamin C (citrus and chili). If you can sort your digestion out quickly then you are less likely to be impacted by more chronic conditions like Irritable bowel Syndrome (IBS).
3. Lower Back Pain
If you were to have an MRI after the age of 30 on your spine the chances are that there would be some degenerative disease to your vertebra, and general wear and tear. However, very few of us request or opt for scans on our backs, so these issues often lie dormant. They only flare up when an incident or stressful event occurs. From my experience over the last 17 years of personal training I have seen a direct correlation between high stress levels and chronic lower back pain. When the stress subsides often to does the back pain. My advice is simple: Keep moving when you feel vulnerable. Yes, consult a health professional, but do not stop everything that you are doing. There are plenty of exercises and movements which will help with your lower back pain and not intensify the situation.
Finally, and importantly, if you are not sure if you are stressed, but are experiencing significant weight loss then there are a few tell-tale signs to watch out for with your lifestyle.
Everyone handles stress differently, some people eat, and some people starve. In my experience be aware of the following 3 points if the weight is coming off fast:
- You are skipping meals– stress often gets you to prioritise other events over meals. So give yourself time to sit down and eat regularly.
- You are exhausted– It is known that stress causes fatigue. Eat your evening meal earlier, as digestion is likely to be slower and we all know you can’t fall asleep on a belly of food.
- You are over training– Yes exercise when you are stressed is the key. However, when physical activity is taken to an extreme, more calories are burned off, and it’s important to replace them properly. If you want to exercise more when stressed, you have to balance with nutrition and hydration.
It is difficult when the “flight or fright mode” is running through your body to keep perspective and balance, but if you can manage this during the difficult periods in your life you are less likely to suffer from some of the above three symptoms mentioned.
Success in health,