3 Signs that Stress is Affecting Your Health

Uncategorized Aug 06, 2017

Clients and patients tell me all the time that they aren't stressed because they have 'no reason' to be. It would be lovely to have life situations and stressful reactions wrapped up on little timelines that made some sort of sense. It would also be great if they were standardized across people so that we knew when something was happening that wasn't 'normal'. BUT.

Let me be the first to tell you: Emotions and stress are NOT always consciously logical. You cannot always follow a clear path from when a particular emotion began. There is no tool to let you know when an emotion will end. Emotional traumas get caught up in our bodies and when we experience something that is similar to a previous experience, the brain recognizes it and releases the same reaction as it did.. way back whenevertheheckthatwas. Often, we are reacting to a situation out of habit.

For example, say a kid with a red backpack used to push you in elementary school. He did it daily for about 2 weeks and you started to get scared. Your brain, automatically, without your knowledge or approval - created a groove, an imprint that says: "red backpacks are unsafe". So now, you're 29, walking down the street and there are 3 red backpacks in a row. You don't even notice them consciously - but all of a sudden, your body feels unsafe and is reacting to something you literally didn't even see. Then, you walk back into your office after lunch and you're rude to Debbie who sits by the window for 'no good reason' and you feel cranky.

You look for things to blame it on (and likely find something).

There was a trigger in your environment and an emotional loop got put into play.

Because of this automatic emotional response system, we are often left unaware of what we are feeling. We label feelings as ‘stress’ because we have such a hard time giving our emotions a clear name, especially when they aren't necessarily a response to something that really happened in the moment. Even more so, we are unaware of how what we are feeling shows up in our physical bodies.


So, how can you make an assessment of how much stress is affecting your life? Leading to burnout? Making you unwell? Check out these 3 signs that stress is affecting your health and see how many of them ring true for you!

  1. You have a pain symptom that cannot be explained. It might be headaches, it might be neck pain. It could be a stomach ache or menstrual cramps. If you have pain in your body that cannot be explained, chances are, it’s of emotional origin.

    “Nah, I’m not stressed. I mean, I have a major week at work right now and at the same time my family is visiting and my cat just died. But, I’m fine. I really don’t feel bad.”

    Says the patient who just came in for upper neck and shoulder pain that showed up out of the blue.

  2. A symptom that you recognize comes back. You know you sometimes have constipation. Doesn’t everyone? But this time it’s day 6 and you are losing your mind. This has happened before and even though you are aware of that, you are still trying to explain it away.

    “Yeah, I’ve had this before. It was after my brother was in a car accident. The whole family was really stressed. But I don’t feel stressed now. It’s actually the anniversary this week."

    Says the client experiencing 6-day constipation with no diet changes.

  3. You wake up most mornings with jaw, upper shoulder, and neck stiffness. You try to explain to yourself that it’s the mattress or the pillow. The same mattress and pillow that haven’t been an issue for the past few months.

    “It’s just so tight. I wake up in the morning and feel like I’ve been clenching my muscles all night. Everything in my life is great. If it weren’t for my boss who screams at the whole team every day, life would be perfect”

    Says the patient with a tight jaw and possible TMJ.

We are all guilty of it. You do it. I do it.

The trick isn't to stop this from happening (you'd have to have superpowers to do that). The trick is to recognize patterns in yourself and then reach out to people who can help you solve them. You never have to remember or re-live the red backpack, but if there are signs that stress is affecting you, there are ways to help your body process and transform that stress so that it doesn't create health issues down the road!


Take a look at this list and then share it with all your friends. I said it before, but I’ll repeat myself: we are all guilty of doing this. Not because we want to. Simply because we haven’t been given the tools to do any different.

The first step is awareness.

Are you aware?





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