Stress gets a bad rap—without it, we wouldn’t feel that rush of adrenaline as we reach the top of a roller coaster. Those butterflies you get in your stomach on a great first date? Gone. And the exhilaration and flow state we sink into when an important deadline is approaching? You can thank stress for that.
But of course, it ain’t always a good thing. Chronically high stress levels challenge our mental clarity, tax the heart, and even increase the risk of developing chronic diseases like dementia and cancer. And unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to determine when we’ve got a healthy level of stress in our lives, or if things are getting out of hand. Usually, though, your body is giving you all the signals you need in order to make that call.
Dealing with a massive breakout—but haven’t had pimples since high school? The root cause of acne is inflammation, which is aggravated by increased levels of anxiety and worry.
Sufferers of chronic eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis know that these skin conditions tend to crop up at the worst possible times—like before a big interview, date, or important event when you’ll be on display. That’s because stress hormones trigger underlying skin issues. Head to the derm for a topical treatment while you work on tempering your stress levels at home.
Weird but true—ridges on the sides of your tongue can indicate a thyroid or hormonal imbalance, usually caused by excessive inflammation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, tongue ridges are a sign of Qi deficiency, a symptom of too much stress.
Strangely, a sudden drop in stress can trigger migraines and headaches—it’s almost like your body was holding on for dear life during a challenging time period, and then relaxes and needs to recover. Regular weekend migraines are a pretty good signal that your work-life is way too crazy.
Painful cramps can be caused by a lot of things—diet, lifestyle, genetics, hormonal imbalances—but excessive stress hormones can make that time of the month completely unbearable.
You know that sugar is basically addictive, but cravings for the sweet stuff get exponentially worse when you’re under pressure. It could be that we’re trying to hack the positivity center of our brains and increase dopamine and serotonin levels by indulging in a donut (or four). But while that might work for a few minutes, eventually it’ll cause a sugar crash … and you’ll feel even worse than before.