Did you know that some of the most common ailments are really stress symptoms?

Do you get headaches in the late afternoon for seemingly unknown reasons? Maybe you suffer from insomnia or have a nagging stomachache that just won’t go away.

These are just a few of the common ailments that are caused by stress.

And the reason why your symptoms persist is because you’re not managing the distressing emotions that are the real cause of your stress.

There are many symptoms of stress that turn up as physical ailments and you might be experiencing more than one. April is Stress Awareness Month so now is a good time to take stock of your life and learn how to stress less.

Here are the top 15 stress symptoms:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Headaches
  3. Upset stomach or acid reflux
  4. Constipation
  5. Lower back pain or muscle tension
  6. Insomnia
  7. Loss of interest in sex
  8. Frequent colds
  9. Jaw pain or teeth grinding
  10. Skin breakouts
  11. Excessive sweating or feeling hot all the time
  12. Dry mouth
  13. Ringing in your ears
  14. Hair loss
  15. Forgetfulness

The good news is that there are many ways you can release stress and relieve your suffering. By practicing these tips you’ll also be protecting yourself from the more serious health consequences of chronic stress related diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

Take a vacation
Ok, so you might not be able to actually take a vacation, but you can actively make the choice to slow down and take a break from the busyness of your daily schedule.

When was the last time you scheduled time to do absolutely nothing at all? You really need that kind of downtime to allow your body and mind to rest and relax.

So, plan an actual vacation if you can—but if you can’t, take some time this week to do absolutely nothing!

There’s a reason why everyone from your mother to your doctor tells you to get more exercise—it increases the feel good chemicals in your body that help protect you.

Exercise also changes the body’s ability to respond to stressors, and improves cardiac health, increases stamina and improves your overall physical conditioning.

Another bonus of exercise is that it improves your ability to sleep soundly, and that gives your body a chance to rest and repair.

If you don’t already have a regular exercise routine, start slowly and build up your stamina. Try an activity you enjoy – whether that’s yoga, walking or lifting weights – and you’ll be more likely to keep doing it.

Do a daily relaxation practice
The physical effects of stress start with the activation of your autonomic nervous system (that’s the part of your body responsible for coordinating respiration, heart rate, hormone release, etc.).

When you’re anxious, this system activates the “fight or flight” response, which is your body’s natural stress response. In the process, your brain actually shuts down your ability to think creatively or flexibly because it just wants to keep you safe.

However, you have the ability to induce the opposite effect by doing a relaxation practice that helps you slow down your breathing and decrease the muscle tension in your body. Making a relaxation practice (like this one) a part of your daily routine can dramatically reduce the impact of stress on your body.

Learn how to meditate
I’ve been meditating for over 20 years and can tell you from personal experience that it’s an amazing stress reducer.

There’s also a ton of research that has found meditation to be helpful in reducing stress and its physical impact. Meditation creates a sense of calm and peacefulness, and it also helps you gain a new perspective on stressful circumstances.

Another benefit of meditation is that it helps you control your attention. It helps you focus on the here and now instead of worrying about the future or thinking about the pain or sadness of the past.

Getting started is easier than you think. Set aside 5 minutes in a comfortable and quiet spot and focus your attention on your breath. When you get distracted (and you definitely will) bring your attention back to the sensation of breathing. And that’s it – you’re meditating!

You can also check out my beginners guide to meditation here or try my guided mindfulness meditation practice here.

And remember, these ailments are often your body’s way of telling you to slow down and pay attention to the emotions that you’ve probably been ignoring. So instead of reaching for an aspirin or a sleeping pill try incorporating these lifestyle strategies into your daily life and let me know how it’s going.


Photo credit: Bigstock