Stress has warning signs that many of us are familiar with, but they can be sneaky. You might not think you’re stressed until symptoms prove otherwise. They’ll cause even more stress once you realize you have them, putting you in an endless cycle that might not end. Therefore, here are five ways stress can wreak havoc on you in obscure ways.
When you’re stressed, your muscles tighten to help you fend yourself from danger or to escape. However, long-term stress will make your muscles rigid, causing strain, tension, and pain.
According to an article by Jim Folk, founder of anxietycentre.com, and Marilyn Folk, BScN,“Many of those who experience stress and anxiety comment about tight, sore, and painful muscles and/or muscle tension problems in the head and face, mouth, back of the head and neck, back and top of the shoulders, chest, arms, back, legs, hands, stomach, digestive system, elimination tract, groin, and feet, as well as others.”
Rashes and pimples
Stress affects your skin, causing itchy splotches or pimples on your body, the most common areas being your neck, arms, and face. This is because stress creates cortisol, which causes breakouts and red marks on skin. According to WebMD, “Stress causes a chemical response in your body that makes skin more sensitive and reactive.” If you have psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea, then stress will make them flare up and get worse.
Your hair has natural cycles that are maintained to ensure new hair growth every day. Stress interferes with these cycles and slows them down, causing hair to fall out or break over time. This becomes a condition called “telogen effluvium.”
According to Diana Rodriguez of Everday Health, “Telogen effluvium is the term for hair loss that occurs temporarily as a result of some trauma, stress, or shock to your body.” The condition will persist until you’re no longer stressed, but it can be reversed.
Stress makes your respiratory system go into overdrive, making you breathe rapidly. According to Healthline, “During the stress response, you breathe faster in an effort to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood to your body.” Your rapid breathing forces your heart to pump faster to produce blood to prepare your body for action. This can exacerbate serious respiratory problems like asthma and emphysema, causing attacks and making it harder to get air into your lungs.
Tunnel vision, light sensitivity, blurry vision, eye strain, and dry eyes all have a common cause: stress. Many of these conditions are minor, and they go away when you relax.
However, long-term stress can cause serious vision problems and could even cause blindness. According to the results of a study published in the EPMA Journal in 2018, “There is clear evidence of a psychosomatic component to vision loss, as stress is an important cause — not just a consequence — of progressive vision loss resulting from diseases such as glaucoma, optic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.”
Sabel, B.A., Wang, J., Cárdenas-Morales, L. et al. EPMA Journal (2018) 9: 133. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13167-018-0136-8