While it seems those heart-palpitating moments of stress should leave us more awake than ever, they actually completely deplete our energy. Dr. Edward Pace-Schott, a professor at Harvard Medical School’s division of sleep medicine, tells The Atlantic our brain has a certain amount of short-term storage for holding memories. When you have an emotional response to something, your brain makes a note that the memory is important and attempts to store it.
There are many things that can diminish your s*x drive, but too much time spent at the office is definitely a culprit. Dr. Stöppler at MedicineNet.com explains a decreased interest in s*x is one of the many symptoms of chronic stress. It’s not all bad news, though — Health mentions exercising has been shown to increase s*x drive, and you’re also more likely to feel confident about your body if you’re a regular at the gym. This, in turn, can give your libido the boost it needs while reducing stress.
Hunger and weight gain
Diet and exercise are the keys to maintaining a healthy weight — this we know to be true. But, when you add chronic stress levels to the mix, things can get dicey. Pamela Peeke, M.D., tells Prevention, “Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight — or even add pounds.”
When you’re stressed, your brain tells your cells to release adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline accesses your energy stores in case you really do need to fight an attacker or run for your life. Cortisol then comes in to replenish that energy, which can signal hunger pangs. While this is useful if you’re in a life-or-death situation, here’s the trouble: Under chronic stress, this happens constantly. Which means your hunger pangs are unrelenting, too. The same story says you’re also more likely to reach for unhealthy options, so be mindful of what those munchies really mean.
It’s likely your chronic stress is leading to some uncomfortable digestive issues. Everyday Health explains when you enter fight-or-flight mode, your digestion essentially stops. And your central nervous system halts blood flow, which can cause problems for your digestive muscles. If you’re in a really dangerous situation, this is a useful response. If it’s everyday stress that’s causing you this much panic, you’re bound to have some discomfort.
Kenneth Koch, M.D., tells the publication you may feel nauseous or have diarrhea, indigestion, or issues with constipation as a result of your high stress levels. It can even make preexisting conditions like celiac disease and stomach ulcers worse.
Rapid heart beat
Your first thought may be heart attack when you feel your ticker beating faster than usual, but stress is actually a more likely cause. You can experience palpitations and may even feel short of breath, dizzy, or faint.
WebMD explains these symptoms may be frightening, but they usually are from stress or anxiety as opposed to anything more serious. Having too much caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol, as well as hormonal changes and certain medications, can also cause a rapid heart beat. If you do think your symptoms could be the sign of something more serious, it’s never a bad idea to ask your doctor.
Feeling frustrated or irritable
Finding your family, co-workers, and friends a little more annoying than usual? They’re probably not doing anything differently — your stress levels are most likely to blame. Guy Winch, Ph.D., tells Psychology Today that when you have a constant flood of stress hormones, your body is always prepared for a threat. This can make us jumpy, irritable, and pretty unpleasant to be around.