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Stress is something we all experience, but when it takes over your life, it can also take over your body. What are the physical symptoms of stress, and what can you do to combat them?

Stress is something we all face from time to time, and something some of us face rather too often. You may manage to deal with stress in a healthy way, by turning to sport, good friends, or relaxing activities like massage or yoga to decompress, but that doesn't always work. When stress is an ongoing player in your life and you can't find relief, either because you're not sure how to cope well, because you're in denial about how stressed you are, or because the cause of your stress is something you don't have any influence over, your stress may start to manifest in physical ways. 

Do you know how to recognize the physical symptoms of stress, and what can you do to make them go away?

What Does Stress Do To Your Body?

Stress is, let's face it, something nobody can completely escape. Fortunately, since stress is such an integral part of the human experience, your body has evolved to cope with it. Stress is a normal reaction to tense and potentially dangerous situations. It can serve to keep the mind and body alert. Running on adrenalin all the time isn't a good thing, but certain circumstances can require it.

Stress turns into a burden when it goes on beyond short periods of time, and it turns into a part of your normal day without finding respite. In that case, stress can manifest in the form of regular headaches, tense muscles, insomnia or disturbed sleeping patterns, an upset stomach, and elevated blood pressure.

These symptoms may be hard to recognize as being caused directly by stress, since they are things many people experience for various reasons. But there's more. Suddenly being unable to speak clearly, being sweaty, having cold extremities, a dry mouth, general low energy, and even falling ill frequently due to a weakened immune system can also be symptoms of stress. Weight loss or weight gain can also be symptoms of stress. Furthermore, research indicates that long-term stress can worsen pre-existing medical conditions.

On the mental side, you may find yourself getting frustrated more quickly than before, may develop a temper, or withdraw into yourself and lose interest in the very activities that could help you overcome your stress. You may lose your libido and see negative changes in your relationship overall. You may also turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress. People who suffer from chronic stress may see alcohol, drugs, binge eating, gambling and other addictions. These coping mechanisms may temporarily make you feel better, because they make you forget your stress, but in the long run they end up merely adding to your problems. 

Stress is, in short, something that can make a huge impact on all aspects of your life and health when it turns into a chronic situation.

Because stress can have such huge effects, it is really important to recognize that your symptoms are in fact caused by it. Note that not all people experience all symptoms of stress — how you try to cope and what physical symptoms of stress you experience as as individual as the people who walk the Earth! 

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