With final exams right around the corner, it might not feel like there are enough hours in the day for all the last-minute projects, deadlines, + summer applications. It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves when things get crazy busy, but stress builds up, even when we don’t realize it. Stress triggers chemical changes in the body that cause us to go into *fight-or-flight* mode. This is a healthy response right before a big race or presentation, as it helps us to be more alert + focused. But when the stress becomes chronic in nature, it leaves us always feeling irritable, anxious, + on edge. When we ignore these mental signs + continue adding more to our plates, stress manifests itself in physical symptoms as well —
Normally, when the body detects a stressor, your central nervous system kicks in so that you can deal with it + get back to baseline again. But when we’re faced with excessive worries or problems outside of our own control, this system sometimes doesn’t shut off + high-energy chemicals like cortisol // adrenaline become elevated. This can cause mood problems like anxiety or depression, + difficulty sleeping // insomnia that keeps you up at night. Next time you need to rest up before a test, try talking to a friend or someone else ya trust about what’s been on your mind, or try one of these natural insomnia home remedies!
Cortisol does more than interrupt your sleep patterns — high levels of this stress-related hormone have also been linked to increased sugar + fat cravings. To avoid an inevitable sugar crash, stock up on healthy snacks before your study-sesh + drink lots of water to stay hydrated through even the most painful lecture notes. You’ll thank yourself later for giving your brain the fuel that it needs.
That pimple in the middle of your forehead [the one you only seem to notice right before formal, an interview or a first date] might not be a coincidence after all. Stress can cause skin breakouts, rashes, or even hives in some people, due to the body’s increase in androgen hormones. If you know you have an event coming up, schedule out time before the *big day* to practice stress-relieving techniques, such as running, cooking, or writing in a meditation journal for ten minutes each morning.
If you’ve recently had a painful headache that just didn’t seem to go away, chronic stress may be the culprit. Cortisol + epinephrine cause vasoconstriction // increased blood pressure, leading to migraines or tension headaches that can feel like a tight bad wrapping around your head — not fun at all. Stress also makes your muscles tense, which can make it even harder to relax when you need to most. Try aromatherapy, using essential oils like lavender, to relieve sinus pressure for a current headache + consider attending a local yoga class once or twice a week to lower general stress + prevent future episodes.
5] BACK PAIN
Excessively tight muscles caused by stress can lead to other aches + pains in the body, too, like the back + shoulders. This can be especially debilitating, preventing you from hitting the gym or making it difficult to get to class in the morning because you’re hurting. Before you break out the Ibuprofen, consider whether there could be an emotional cause to your physical discomfort. Addressing the external stressors in your life may help ya heal from the inside out. : )
Stress is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn’t mean it has to *control* you. Make these last weeks of the semester a breeze by recognizing the physical [+ mental] symptoms of stress ++ finding healthy ways to cope with ‘em.
+Alyssa (amatts_inchaarg) // UConn CHAARG