As a busy professional, stress is probably an integral part of your life, whether you’re scrambling to meet tight deadlines or giving big conference presentations – work keeps you on your toes. And while you may know when stress is infringing on your personal life, skewing work-life balance, do you know how to tell when stress is harming your body? Stress can cause a number of distinctive physical symptoms and it’s important to nip them in the bud.
Watch out for these 4 common symptoms of stress – they’re your body’s way of telling you you’re pushing too hard. Take some time to tune in and listen to your body, you’ll be glad you did.
While we’re all on the lookout for those graying strands, at first thinning hair may not look especially troublesome. For women with a thick head of hair, it may not even be that noticeable. But as time goes on, prolonged exposure to stress can cause significant hair loss. Watch out for clumps in your brush or more loose strands when in the shower. Unaddressed, gradual thinning can easily become a bald spot, which no woman wants.
If you haven’t had problems with acne since your teen years, you may be surprised to see breakouts appearing on your face again as an adult. Increased androgens caused by stress can make your skin more likely to break out, and left unaddressed may cause scarring. Check in with a dermatologist who can help you choose the right treatments to reduce the number and severity of breakouts.
Difficulty sleeping is one of the easier symptoms of stress to recognize, particularly if you find yourself lying awake at night worrying about projects or even getting up and working in the middle of the night due to restlessness. To improve your rest, try adding some gentle exercise to your routine and limit caffeine later in the day. Additionally, looking at phone and computer screens shortly before bed can disrupt sleep hormones, so look for more calming activities like reading a novel as bedtime approaches.
Finally, work stress may make itself known in the form of digestive issues. And while it’s one thing to have a stomach ache right before a big presentation or assignment is due because of the associated anxiety, constant stomach pain, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea can be a sign that your body is under serious distress. Try making some dietary changes and eating a gentler diet and consider seeing your doctor.
Over time, physical symptoms of stress can become a greater source of distraction and distress than work itself, so it’s important to address these symptoms at the start. By taking a step back from some responsibilities, eating healthier, and working with your colleagues to attain greater professional balance, you may find that you’re soon feeling much better.