Well, folks, I've been slacking. Like a lot. If you were to ask me two years ago whether or not I think stress could cause internal harm, I'd hear you out, but then politely disagree. Before I continue, I want to add that everyone stresses out, that's why we hear these words so often. There are the good stresses, called eustress, but then there are the bad stresses, also known as distress. I'm typically a mix between "is the glass half full or half empty?" but for the sake of this article, I'm going to be the pessimist I am and focus on the negative stress.
Before my sophomore year, I didn't have heartburn as frequently as I do now.
I've done minimal research on this, but what I learned is that there is a strong correlation between the two. Maybe that's why they call it a "gut feeling."
In a 2005 study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, researchers measured the esophageal acid levels in more than 40 patients who had chronic heartburn and acid reflux. While the measurement was taking place, the researchers induced stress in half of the participants by requiring them to prepare and deliver a five-minute speech. The acid levels in both groups were nearly identical; patients in the "stressed" group, however, reported more intense acid reflux symptoms, suggesting that their sensitivity to their symptoms had been heightened.
But it makes sense. If you ask my roommate, my number one complaint since day one was that I had terrible, terrible heartburn. Moving on...
My stomach hurts, like a lot.
'Nuff said, but I don't know if it's the dining hall food (which I don't think because it got a lot better) or stress. Studies show that the more stressed out you get, the less likely you are to take into consideration your eating habits.
Harvard researchers have reported that stress from work and other sorts of problems correlates with weight gain, but only in those who were overweight at the beginning of the study period. One theory is that overweight people have elevated insulin levels, and stress-related weight gain is more likely to occur in the presence of high insulin.
One word: headaches.
So. Many. Headaches. I'm surprised I haven't run out of Advil yet. Mad respect for the makers of Advil, Acetomenaphin, Ibuprofen, and Tylenol. Heck, let's through in Peptol Bismol while we're at it!
Paranoia is driving me off the walls.
I'm not sure if the two correlate, but I find myself feeling super self-conscious and having trouble relying on people. Sometimes I feel like I have the world on my shoulders with everyone trying to make me drop it.
I feel restless.
I can never seem to relax. I need to be busy at all times, which is part of why I took on so much.
I'm going to end on this one. Now I know it's normal to feel shaky when you're nervous or hungry, but I feel the shakes on a daily basis. It's a struggle and I think it correlates with the heightened level of anxiety I can get sometimes, which is a whole other issue.
Those symptoms I just listed aren't even the end of it. That's just the physiological impact. I didn't even touch on the emotional/mental/social/academic effects stress has on a person. Something to note is that this is just me. My stressors may affect me in a different way then someone else. There is no one way to pinpoint what is causing us to stress, but there are certainly ways to handle it. I suggest using a meditation app. I haven't been consistent enough to say it cures all, but it definitely helps to take 5 – 10 minutes a day to take a step back and put your life into perspective.