By: Nicholas Knock
The demands of life can get the best of us. Your job is killing you, you're $30,000 in debt, and nobody's swiping right on your Tinder profile. It's no wonder more than half of Americans are moderately stressed, with a quarter being highly frazzled.
Chronic negative stress will eventually destroy your body, and, in spite of what you may think, humans are so good at carrying on in the face of adversity that sometimes you don't even notice stress. So open up your eyes and see these not-so-obvious signs of stress before it ruins your wonderful life.
Your teeth hurt
Does your mouth ever hurt when you wake up? Sure, it could be your roommates messing with you while you sleep. But it's more likely to be bruxism, a fancy word for grinding your teeth. Several studies have shown that bruxism is more common in those who perceive themselves to be under great stress. To keep your teeth from actually bearing the brunt of your stress, try sleeping with a mouth guard.
You get canker sores
It seems your mouth is a really great litmus test for stress. If it's not the bruxism, then maybe it's the canker sores sounding the alarm. While not necessarily being caused by stress, canker sores are more likely to occur in those who are stressed. They're also more likely to stick around longer once you get them.
You frequently have bad dreams
If you spend your nights falling to your death as your teeth melt out, there's a good chance you're stressed. Anxiety and stress are some of the most common causes of bad dreams. Not only are nightmares an indication your brain's attempt at processing negativity and stress, but they also disrupt sleep, and make the next day suck that much more... leading to more stress... and more nightmares. It's a vicious cycle.
You get sick more often, and it lasts longer than you're used to
Evolution is just the worst sometimes. Originally, your body's reaction to stress was meant to keep you alive in "fight-or-flight" situations, as opposed to rush hour traffic.
In an actual survival situation, stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are put to good use. In traffic and board meetings, they don't do much more than inflame and weaken your immune system. During prolonged stress, cortisol stops doing its normal job of regulating immune cells, thereby increasing your chances of getting sick and staying sick longer. Doesn't matter if it's bacterial, viral, or even stronger allergies, stress can cause chronic inflammation and really break you down.
Your hair's falling out
Let's talk about another vicious cycle. Inflammation doesn't just make you sick. It can also stunt hair growth, or worse, make those beautiful locks fall out altogether. Noticing hair loss isn't exactly a happy fun time, which causes more stress, leading to more hair loss, causing more stress... and on and on until the circle of stress is broken (which we'll get to in a second).
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