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Don't Ignore Signs of Chronic Stress

By Sandy Schroeder

Most of us have felt excess stress after such an intense year, but it is important to know whether stress becomes chronic. Usually we walk, run, and try to relax to shed the daily load of stress, but sometimes it feels like stress is gaining ground. 

If you can relate, you should look for these signs of chronic stress. If you spot red flags, it may be time to intercept the stress now.  You can reverse the flow If you calm down, eat better, sleep more and become more active. 

Here are the signs from Mayo Clinic that say it's time to take action.   

Stomach upset - Ongoing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation may point to stress' impact on your digestive system. See your doctor to reduce stress and modify your diet to regain control.   

Ongoing pain - When your head, chest, stomach and other muscles hurt, stress may be the culprit triggering migraines, muscle soreness and joint pain. Find ways to ease up and relax to reduce tension.  

Spikes in heart rate and blood pressure - When stress hits the flight or fight urge kicks in, and the body goes into high gear. If these stress hits become regular events, vessels may become inflamed and the risk of a heart attack soars.   

Loss of focus - When stress simply won't let go, concentration lags and work suffers. Much of the energy that normally goes into projects becomes scattered. You know how troubling that is when you are facing deadlines and struggling to pull work together. Step outside for short quiet breaks. Just sit and breathe to regroup.  

 Skin reactions - When the skin breaks out, itches and reddens, stress may be taking over. A friend of mine often breaks out in hives when her worries become overwhelming. See your doctor for relief and use daily meditations or short walks to ease the tension. 

New restless sleep patterns - If your normal restful nights turn into ongoing struggles to fall asleep and stay asleep, make sleep a priority. Keep the same bedtime each night. Avoid spicy foods, alcohol and electronics right before bedtime. Create a sleep ritual to wind down with warm baths, soft music and simple snacks. Let rest ease the tension. 

New intense headaches - If headaches start in the morning and continue on through the day as tension builds, it's time to take a day off, go away for the weekend and take frequent breaks while you are working.  

Kicking stress out of the picture may take some work, but the difference will be worth the effort in the long run. You will feel better and be better. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in San Antonio, Tex.

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