Many health issues can be exacerbated by stress and anxiety. Stress, and its relation to our physical and mental health, continues to be the source of much scientific and clinical investigation. There is no question of its interrelationship, but we are only beginning to understand the complicated relationship between mind and body.
Many common physical symptoms can be exacerbated by stress, and this terrific roundup of medical experts explains many of them. I was very pleased top weigh in on the complicated relationship between stress and physical health, and in particular, offer a few thoughts on the powerful mitigating impact our attitude can have on the effects of stress and anxiety.
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“The brain and body connection is complex and multilayered,” Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in anxiety, tells SELF. “Everyone feels stress and anxiety differently, but gut issues, skin issues, even arthritis and circulatory issues can be affected by how we interact emotionally with our environment and its many demands.”
These are real symptoms—the fact that they may be caused by or exacerbated by stress does not mean that they’re all in your head. There are a wide range of physical symptoms that can be triggered by stress, but these are some of the most common ones you might experience:
1. You feel wiped all the time.
As part of the stress response, your brain produces the hormone cortisol and releases it into your bloodstream. “It is a fantastic hormone that can offer our bodies and brains boosts of energy and protection when we need it most,” Dr. Clark says. Short bursts of cortisol with rests in between (think: feeling frazzled when you’re running for the subway, but calm once you make the train) are better than chronic production (constantly being stressed due to work and life pressures), she says. And being stressed on a regular basis can wear your body down and make you feel tired all the time because you’re often in a hopped-up state of cortisol, Dr. Clark explains.
“It’s easy to tell someone to stop stressing but it’s actually a very difficult task,” Dr. Goldenberg says. You’re never going to eradicate stress from your life, but Dr. Clark recommends trying to change your outlook on it. “Taking control is a key way to turn stress and anxiety around, and use it to find solutions,” she says. Maybe there are things you know you can do to help you manage your symptoms, like working out more regularly or looking for a new job, that you need to make more of a priority. And, of course, if you feel like you can’t shake your stress, a mental health professional may be able to help.