Stress really sucks. It sucks up your energy, your desire to get to the gym, and even your libido. And while some stress can help you kick butt when your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, daily stress can mess with your mind and body in serious ways.
Check out these freaky symptoms, and follow our pointers for how to mitigate these nasty side effects.
1. It Makes You Exhausted
Aside from the fact that your anxiety might be keeping you up at night, freaking out triggers your brain to release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. This helpful chemical quickens your heartbeat, gives your brain more oxygen, and releases extra energy to help your body deal with that stress. But frequent stress can cause your brain to limit the amount of cortisol it sends into your bloodstream, which can make you feel like you’re dragging butt all day, every day. The good news is that about three hours a week of working out should keep those hormone levels in check.
When you’re really freaking out, the level of hormones called androgens in your body spike, causing acne to flare up. You can try using birth control to keep breakouts in check or using topical treatments when they occur. In addition to zits on your face, it can also show up on other parts of your skin in the form of rashes. That’s because anxiety wreaks havoc on your immune system, which can make eczema act up or cause skin infections like staph. Visit the drug store for topical treatments to help with those issues or speak with your doctor if those don’t help or symptoms get worse.
3. You Can’t Remember Anything
Stress that occurs when you feel a threat to your life or a loved one’s life and feels like intense fear or helplessness, seriously impacts your hipoocampus, the area of your brain where your memories are stored. This kind causes the hippocampus to actually shrink, making it tough to remember facts, lists, the entirety of an event, or long gaps of time (from minutes to days). Plus, the damage can make it hard to create new memories.
4. It May Cause Weight Gain
A University of Kentucky study found that dieters who learned stress-management tactics were more successful at losing weight than dieters who didn’t. The connection between reducing stress and losing weight could be that it helps cut back on stress-related binge eating. Plus, another study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinologyfound that women who were constantly stressed out metabolized fat and sugar differently than those who weren’t anxiety-ridden.