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Are You Showing Signs of Chronic Stress?

By Sandy Schroeder

When stress builds, we may talk too fast, mutter more, or head out for a lot of pizza lunches. Our friends and family usually know the signs and give us extra space.

But chronic stress, stemming from issues such as health, financial or family, may be more elusive, according to Stevan E. Hobfoll, PhD, Rush University Medical Center.

See if these signs fit your situation. If they do, go for a daily walk. Explore mindful meditation, or unplug your electronics for an hour or two.

Dream Waves - If you are stressed, dreams/nightmares may wake you during the night. Researchers say we work through many issues during sleep. If you are stressed, those dreams may tell the story. I have a friend who says she always dreams that she has lost her purse when a financial crisis hits. Make your bedroom a sleep haven and skip electronics, alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. 

Weekend Transitions – As you step away from your job, the stress relief may trigger headaches. Eat and sleep like you do during the week to reduce symptoms.

Random Clues – When we are overly stressed, it may be easier to walk off and leave your keys behind, or put the milk in the cabinet instead of the fridge.

Repetitive Remarks – Your family may spot this one as you give them identical instructions multiple times for feeding the dog or cleaning the kitchen.

Sore Gums – Researchers say the stress hormone, cortisol, impacts the immune system, encouraging mouth bacteria. If you are having inflamed, bleeding gums, see a periodontist, and floss and brush more.

Nonstop Itching – Your stress response can arouse nerves, agitating existing skin conditions.  

Sweet Cravings – If you cannot walk past the donut box at work, or the candy counter at the store, stress may be powering your cravings. Choose dark chocolate first. Try for small bites.

Allergy Attack – If you have allergies, you may already know your symptoms go up when you are anxious. Researchers say stress hormones stimulate blood proteins triggering allergic reactions.

If these symptoms fit, try for more sleep, exercise approved by your doctor, and a healthy dose of laughter whenever possible. At the same time, take an afternoon off, or an hour out of each day to just unwind. Head outside too; walk the dog or take your kids to the park. 

If symptoms persist, see your doctor to discuss them and consider seeing a counselor for more help. 

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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