Normally we associate stress with bad stuff happening, like losing a job or having too many deadlines. But stress is simply a reaction. You can be stressed by being promoted, getting a raise, and even by going on holiday.
#1 Flatulence. When you’re stressed, your body goes into flight or fight mode. This includes making changes to your digestive system.
When you’re stressed continuously, this can cause an upset tummy, diarrhea, constipation and gas.
#2 Weird dreams. There are a lot of theories about why we dream, and if they have an impact on our health, but studies suggest we all dream at various points in the night, whether we remember them or not.
While nothing can be done about dreams, some people find they dream more – and more vividly – when they’re stressed.
So strange wild dreams can be a useful clue that you’re taking on too much in your life.
#3 Skin rashes, spots and pimples. When sweat glands are blocked, trapped moisture leads to inflammation such as spots and rashes.
Sweating is normal in hot tropical countries like Singapore and Malaysia, but when you’re stressed, you tend to perspire even more.
At the same time, being over-stressed can affect your immune system, which can also inflame skin issues like acne.
If you have skin conditions like allergies, eczema or psoriasis, these are also more likely to flare up if you’re stressed.
#4 Muscle cramps. When you’re stressed, you may tense your muscles. After prolonged tension, this can lead to all kinds of cramps.
Although you might have tummy cramps one day and foot cramp the next, a lot of people find that they are affected in a particular way. I get back pain and tension headaches when I’m stressed.
#5 Menstrual problems. Stress can make your periods arrive early, late or disappear altogether. Most annoyingly, it can increase period pain. In the long-term, stress can affect fertility for both men and women.
If you’re worried about this, keep a diary that includes stress level notes for auditing and talk to your gynae.
Note: I have two jobs, author and counsellor. This article first appeared on Malaysia Women's Weekly on 22 December 2016. Go over and check out the free articles, and buy the magazine copy for even more goodies! Update: 23 November 2022, MWW web site is no longer up, sorry!