Is Stress Stressing You Out?

Common effects of stress and how to cure them

Payton Wozny, Editorial Board

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Many people are constantly looking for ways to manage their stress. Although stress affects us in many obvious ways, like causing procrastination, it actually has major effects on our physical health, so it’s critical to avoid stressors and manage unavoidable ones. With finals season swinging into full gear, here are some short and long-term effects of stress that you should be aware of and some remedies to prevent or cure them.

1. Headaches

Headaches are a common symptom of stress and can, unfortunately, make it even harder to get your work done. Some of the best ways to get rid of a stress headache, also referred to as a tension headache, are to massage your temples gently, take a quick break from your stressor, and make sure to eat healthily and drink plenty of water.

2. Muscle Tension

Another short-term effect is muscle tension. Similar to headaches, there are several quick fixes to muscle cramps caused by stress including a warm bath or a gentle full-body stretch. When practicing these remedies, it is important not to take too hot of a bath or over-stretch as these could make muscle tension or other symptoms worse. Also, if you have some time to spare, a massage can significantly decrease tense muscles.

3. Sleep problems

This can be a short or a long-term effect that can have major effects on many other aspects of your life. The best ways to prevent sleep problems caused by stress, or in severe cases stress-induced insomnia, are to calm your body down before bed, perhaps by doing some gentle stretches, participating in breathing exercises, and to avoid using electronics close to bedtime.

4. Weakened Immune System

Our body is constantly fighting off infections and foreign bodies thanks to our immune system. The main part of this important system are the white blood cells. Unfortunately, the stress hormone takes away from the strength of our immune systems; so when you are stressed, you are more likely to get sick. In situations where stress is unavoidable, eating healthy, exercising frequently, and getting plenty of sleep can help to strengthen the immune system.

5. Effects on the body’s systems like digestive, cardiovascular, etc.

Similarly to the immune system, stress can cause some problems with many other bodily systems. Increased blood pressure can create problems with the cardiovascuclar system. Stress hormones can create stomach aches or, in extreme cases, stomach ulcers in the digestive system. But most importantly, stress can cause someone to go through behavioral changes that have even greater effects on overall health like the use of drugs or alcohol, unhealthy diet revisions, or decreasing physical activity.

Overall, stress causes a chain of reactions on the body, and yes, these effects may seem scary, but there is absolutely no need to add more to your plate by worrying about them. The most important thing is to listen to your body and give yourself time to rest. If you take proper care of yourself, you won’t have anything to worry about.

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