Not one part of your body is immune to stress. It can impact your physical as well as your mental health, including your emotions, behaviors, and decision-making. In fact, unmanaged stress can be a slippery slope back to addiction.
The best solution is to start paying attention to the warning signs – and then start taking steps to manage your tension – through exercise, relaxation techniques, healthful eating, proper sleep, and so on. The key is to slow down and de-stress before it interferes with your sobriety.
Though not everyone will have the same symptoms, here are some common red flags to watch out for:
- Headaches: Chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol, which are released during times of stress, can cause vascular changes that result in a tension headache or migraine.
- Muscle tension, neck or back pain: Stress can lead to tense muscles and even painful muscle spasms.
- Upset stomach: Stress can cause a benign bout of the butterflies or a more serious reaction like diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.
- Increased frequency of colds: Stress lowers your immune system, upping your risk for frequent colds. One study found that people with high levels of stress are twice as likely to catch a cold than those with low stress levels.
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep: Stress causes hyperarousal, which can upset the balance between sleep and wakefulness, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Overeating so-called comfort foods: Cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress, has been linked to cravings for sugar and fat.
Other symptoms of stress include:
- Sore jaw or bleeding gums
- Itchy skin
- Odd dreams
- Lack of concentration or focus
- Memory problems or forgetfulness
- Short temper
How Being More Mindful Can Help
Whether you’re struggling with stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, or an overly active mind, mindfulness has shown proven success. As part of the recovery process at Providence Treatment, co-founder Dr. William Heran leads mindfulness training and Silent Retreats. To learn more, call (866) 247-3307.