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Aurora Physical Therapy Team Explains How Stress Impacts Your Health

December 28, 2020

Stress is one of the most pervasive issues adults face every day. It comes from your job, your social life, your financial health, and sometimes the community at large. Whatever the cause of your stress is, the longer you experience those feelings, the more impact it can have on your health and wellbeing. Though getting physical therapy in Aurora, CO, can help you manage the physical symptoms of your stress, it’s still best if you understand how stress can impact your health. The sooner you can recognize the signs, the faster you’ll be able to seek proper treatment and get your life back on track. 

Frequent Aches and Pains
One of the most common symptoms of stress is seemingly inexplicable aches and pains that pop up without warning. This happens because your muscles are overly tight and, as long as you’re stressed, will stay that way without being given the chance to relax and let go. Over time, those tight muscles can lead to changes in your posture and your body’s natural alignment, making it harder to enjoy the activities you normally do. Worse, by overcompensating for those sore muscles with other muscle groups, you increase the number of pain points across your body. 

Increased Blood Pressure 
Stress doesn’t just make your muscles sore. It can also have far-reaching consequences with your heart health and blood pressure. When you get stressed and stay that way, your blood pressure goes up on its own. This is true even if your blood pressure levels are normal when you’re less stressed. It’s part of your body’s natural response to external stress triggers. Unfortunately, high blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke over time. The sooner you can de-stress and unwind, the easier it will be to get your blood pressure levels back down where they belong.

Intestinal Upset
If you’ve ever been so stressed and anxious that you’ve felt sick to your stomach, you’re not alone. It’s more common than you might think and while stomachaches are relatively rare and reserved for people experiencing the highest levels of stress, it’s normal to have digestive upset during periods of increased emotional or mental strain. In most instances, this will show up as increased bloating, gas, nausea, and even a lack of hunger. Though dealing with those symptoms in the short term is doable, they can become particularly troublesome for your health if you have to cope with them for days on end. 

Weakened Immune System
Stress can also wreak havoc on your immune system. It causes it to weaken or become less effective at fighting viruses and bacteria that you get exposed to at work, the store, or in public. This is because your body is diverting energy away from your immune system to help you maintain your fight or flight response. The weaker your immune system is, the harder it will be for you to stay healthy throughout the year. Once you find ways to de-stress, you’ll be able to boost your immune system and get things back in shape.

Trouble Sleeping
One of the biggest symptoms of serious stress is the inability to get to sleep or stay that way throughout the night. Insomnia doesn’t just hurt your sleep schedule. It can also have a major impact on your health. Remember, your body rests, heals, and recharges when you’re sleeping. If you’re not getting enough sleep each night, your body won’t be able to recover fully. You’ll likely notice changes in your productivity at work, your focus, and your ability to enjoy the little things in life.

Increased Risk of Injury
Remember those tight muscles you have when you’re stressed? Well, they can end up increasing your risk of muscle strain and injury just from your normal activities. When your muscles are tight, they have less of their natural range of motion and aren’t able to withstand the shifting, pushing, and pulling that you do in your regular movements. Instead, they’re more vulnerable to strains and tears. Those strains can take months of work and recovery to heal fully. Though a physical therapist will be able to help you speed up your recovery, you’ll still need to find ways to lower your stress if you want to avoid injuries in the future.

Weight Gain
Though some people experience digestive issues and upset when they’re stressed that can cause them to stop eating or eat less, others don’t. Some people end up eating more than they need to or start indulging in junk foods that they shouldn’t eat on a regular basis. Unfortunately, eating more junk and more calories each day can cause you to gain weight even if you’re otherwise maintaining the same healthy habits you do when you’re not stressed. The more weight you gain, the more it can impact your stress levels and your overall health. Remember, carrying more weight than is healthy can be tough on your joints and your cardiovascular system.

What You Can Do
One of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing is to find ways to relax and unwind even when you’re stressed. This might mean stepping away from situations that you find stressful or taking time for yourself each evening to meditate or read a favorite book. These simple acts of self care can help you avoid the common issues caused by stress in the long run. 

Put Yourself First
Stressors are everywhere. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed and notice aches and pains that just won’t go away, schedule an appointment with your physical therapist as soon as you can. The sooner you can find ways to help your body heal, the better off your body and your wellbeing will be. Remember, asking for help isn’t something to feel ashamed of. It just means you’re recognizing your own limits. Reach out to our team and schedule a consultation with our experienced physical therapists. We’ll help you find the appropriate treatment protocol to help you overcome any stress-related injuries.