With increasingly busy lives and the modern demands of multi-tasking, stress and burnout have become a part of life and if we do not keep them in check, our mental health can take a deteriorate across time.
Does stress cause weight gain?
Does being stressed cause back pain?
Will stress cause a heart attack?
Does stress affect sex drive?
And what does stress do to someone who already has health problems?
In this blog post, we’re going to explore the relationship between stress and your health because mental health problems can often overlap with your physical health.
What Is Stress And What Causes It?
Common causes of stress are conflicts with people in our lives. For example, disagreements with family members and work colleagues, or disputes with neighbours can easily become long term stresses.
Thinking about these things is enough to increase my heart rate!
Life events can also elevate your stress levels. For example, being stuck in traffic when you’re running late for an important appointment – you may notice sweating, an upset stomach, and muscle tension around your jaw and neck.
Stress, by itself, is a natural mechanism in response to real or perceived threats and our bodies are designed to handle small doses of it. Stress is our fight-or-flight response to a stressor.
Often when we realise that we are approaching burn-out, we have already had months of stress, anxiety and poor sleep. It is important to be able to recognise warning signs and have a plan to alleviate stress before they lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, chest pain, or even heart disease.
Common Signs That You’re Stressed
Stress can be identified through emotional, cognitive, behavioural, and physical symptoms.
Ask yourself the following:
- Do you find yourself feeling easily frustrated and agitated?
- Do you feel overwhelmed and out of control?
- Do you find yourself avoiding others?
- Do you have difficulting relaxing and calming your mind?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above – you may be showing emotional symptoms of stress.
Similarly, frequent insomnia, clenched jaw, headaches, tense muscles, upset stomach, constipation, nausea, and frequent colds are physical symptoms of feeling stressed. These are common physiological reactions to stress.
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
- Constant worrying
- Inability to focus on tasks and general forgetfulness
- Consistently seeing only the negative side of things
- Racing thoughts
As a result of these cognitive symptoms, many people may have reduced sexual desire.
Stress can augment your everyday behaviour. These can include:
- Not eating or eating too much
- Increasing consumption of alcohol, smoking, or drugs
- Fidgeting, nail biting, skin-scratching, and other nervous behaviours.
Therefore, although stress does not directly cause obesity, the changes in your daily behaviour as a result of unaddressed stress can lead to weight gain.
While any of these individual symptoms are normal responses to stress, long-term and persistent changes to one’s behaviours, actions and thought-patterns may lead to poor mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
Incorporating physical activity into your regular routine can assist in relieving stressors that are on your mind. Similarly, participating in relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises can also help especially during stressful situations.
Counselling can assist with strategies for managing stress.
How Counselling Can Help You With Your Chronic Stress
As previously mentioned, experiencing stress and anxiety in response to a trigger is completely normal. However, prolonged periods of stress can be problematic.
New Vision Psychology counsellors have extensive experience working in counselling, using a wide range of evidence-based frameworks and therapeutic methods.
Dealing with stress falls under our stress counselling services as well as Employee Assistance Program service for businesses.
A key principle of our therapy is to work collaboratively with clients to meet their individual needs. This is by working with the therapeutic method that best works for the individual client.
Some of these methods include, but are not restricted to:
- Client centred approach
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Relaxation strategies
- Interpersonal Therapies
- Solutions-Focused Therapies
- Psycho-dynamic approaches
Get in touch with our team on 1300 001 778 to find out how we can assist you with your stress management.
And Since You Asked
Does stress cause long term high blood pressure?
While stress can spike your blood pressure temporarily, there is no evidence that stress by itself causes long term high blood pressure (source – Mayo Clinic).
Is my back pain caused by stress?
Since we’ve already established that there are physical symptoms of stress; with muscle tension being one of the symptoms, it is safe to say that the discomfort you experience in your lower back may be a result of tense muscles in the area (source – The Physio Company).
Can too much stress result in a heart attack?
The release of stress hormones will temporarily raise your blood pressure and studies have shown that stress can change the way blood clots, which increases your chance of experiencing a heart attack (source – WebMD).