5 Warning Signs Stress Is Making You Sick (And What To Do)

Studies show that the general population is more stressed than ever before, with around 30% of people experiencing a decline in physical or mental health as a result. If you’re trying to manifest your dream life, it’s hard to do so when you’re completed in this way—but how do you know if tension, tiredness and pressure are becoming too intense for your body to handle, and what can you do to cope with?

Here are five major warning signs that stress is starting to make you ill, along with solutions for each problem.

We’ll start by looking at short-term fixes, then discuss longer-term cures at the end. All of these issues should be investigated by a doctor in the first instance, but if there’s no serious underlying physical cause for your symptom then read on.

1. Symptom: You Break Out In Hives

In times of high stress, the immune system can begin to release too much histamine, which can lead to the same itchy, red bumps you’d experience during an allergic reaction. In addition, a stress-weakened immune system can lead to heightened skin sensitivity, so you may react to things that never used to bother you.

Solution:

Get hold of some soothing skin cream to help to calm your hives, and resist the temptation to scratch. Using mild soaps, perfume-free cosmetics and detergents during times of stress will also cut the risk of hyper-sensitivity reactions to products, and some people find a soothing oat milk bath calms the mind at the same time as taking the itch out of a rash.

2. Symptom: Your Weight Changes

When you’re stressed out, your body floods with the stress hormone cortisol, which stops you from processing blood sugar in the right way. Some people lose weight in response, while others gain it. Meanwhile, it’s common to comfort eat when you’re worried, or to feel too sick to consume normal means.

Solution:

Addressing the spike in cortisol requires looking to the root cause of stress, but if you know that you overeat or undereat then it’s smart to find other ways to regulate your feelings. How could you let out some of that frustration or anxiety? Healthier options include exercise, writing, or escaping into a novel.

3. Symptom: Your Stomach Is Unsettled

If you never catch a break (mentally or physically), your gastrointestinal tract can begin to suffer. Digestive acid production increases, causing heartburn, and both gas and bloating can develop as the stomach begins to process food more slowly.

Solution:

A soothing peppermint tea treats wind and cramping and ginger drinks can reduce nausea. If you have a particularly rough few days, eating bland foods can reduce symptoms until you’re able to cut down on the amount of stress in your life.

4. Symptom: Tension Headaches

After weeks of stress, the muscles in your head and neck can become so tight and knotted that you have a seemingly unending headache. The pain can also affect your eyes, making it difficult and painful to concentrate on your work.

Solution:

A cold compress placed over the temples and eyes can help to reduce inflammation around this area. It’s also important to look at how and where you sit, to ensure your body is well-supported and your lighting is adequate. And if you can find the time to book a massage, this is probably the best way to get those nasty kinks out of your muscles!

5. Acne

You might have thought that your acne days were left behind in the teenage years, but the unfortunate truth is that stress can bring painful cysts and pimples right back. As mentioned above, your body starts releasing more hormones when you’re stressed, and the resultant oil production can cause zits when it gets trapped inside your hair follicles.

Solution:

Take a look at your skin routine to make sure you're using products that suit acne-prone skin—even if it’s only a temporary measure—and cut out anything that might irritate. Aim for creams that are unscented, lack preservatives and are designed with sensitive skin in mind. In addition, if you wear makeup then make sure you’re taking it off properly at the end of the day (something that’s easy to forget when you’re rushed off your feet).

Tackling Stress At The Source

While there are smart ways to combat the major signs that stress is making you sick, these are just temporary fixes. If you want to vibrate on the kind of high frequency that allows you to attract the things you’ve always wanted, the best thing you can do is address the lifestyle issues that are causing you to be so tense in the first place. Here are some quick but important questions to ask yourself—consider them, then use them to make an action plan to bust your stress once and for all:

  • What five things make you happiest? How could you make more time for each this week?
  • What two commitments could you decline to make more space for yourself?
  • Could you write a one-line affirmation that helps to de-escalate stressful emotions?
  • Are you devoting time and energy to relationships that are toxic or one-sided?
  • How can you best incorporate a 10-minute meditation practice into everyday?
  • Why are you stressed? Write down five reasons, and then write down five solutions.