Stress is something that happens to literally everyone. It could be brought on by finals week, a bad fight with your bestie, or if you have a particularly difficult job. No matter if it’s short-term or long-term, stress can do some weird things to your body. Stress is your body’s response to threats or demands. It releases adrenaline and cortisol because your body thinks it has to enter into emergency mode. Essentially, these hormones are here to help us in these situations, but at what cost?
Some people work well under stress and some people completely shut down and get overwhelmed. Either way, we’ve all been there. We’ve all had those nerves bundle in our stomach, bleary vision, and that random headache that even Advil won’t fix. But sometimes, stress can really freak our bodies out (and hey, chill out, body. It’s not that bad, this too shall pass).
I know when I’m under stress, even when I don’t feel particularly stressed, because my body likes to tell me to calm myself in these sometimes disruptive, but definitely strange ways. Maybe they’ve happened to you, too? Here are 13 weird things that happen to your body when you’re stressed.
1) Stress messes with your period.
TMI time! I have a period tracker app on my phone. I remember when I moved to California and also that time when I was performing in two shows, commuting to NYC, and working full time in NJ. Wanna know how I know? Those 40 day cycles! I didn’t want to say “it makes your period start late” because for some of us, stress makes your period start early or it makes your period last for longer than a week. Sometimes stress can even make your period last a whole month. Not okay.
2) Stress screws with your immune system.
I want to stay away from “stress makes you sick,” because sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes stress gives your body superpowers to pull through whatever’s happening in your life… until it’s over, at which point you’re sicker than you’ve been all year. If that doesn’t happen to you, stress will bring on that cold right when you need to be at your healthiest. Bodies are so weird.
3) If you didn’t have digestive issues before, you do now. Thanks, stress!
Thank you, random heart burn and acid reflux. Stress can make you binge and stress can make you lose your appetite, but we all know that stress can give you “stress poops.” Do I need to say more?
4) Same thing goes for those of us with perfect skin. Stress can make you break out.
Why with the chin acne, body? I thought you had my back!
5) And honestly, tension headaches are the worst kind of headache.
Tension headaches make it hard to even look at screens sometimes, so that’s really helpful if what’s stressing you out is that presentation you have to get done… by looking at your laptop. They don’t get better with Advil or water, they encompass your whole head, and it feels like they’re going to be there forever – they’re the worst.
6) Stress can give you insomnia.
You don’t process “bedtime” anymore. No matter how much your body wants you to sleep, your brain is still in full work mode and won’t let you sleep no matter how hard you try. Insomnia also makes you more irritable, so sorry if I snap, I’m probably stressed beyond belief.
7) Stress also keeps your mind racing, even when you try to calm down.
Sometimes that insomnia is made worse by your brain going on hyperdrive. It’ll do anything to keep you awake! That song that’s stuck in your head is now on full volume, you’re thinking about embarrassing things you did years ago, and replaying movies in your head. Your brain is doing literally everything it can to keep you awake.
8) Your brain is working in overdrive so much, you can become extremely forgetful.
Remember that scene in Inside Out where they’re dumping all of Riley’s memories to make room for other stuff? It’s like that. Your brain’s so occupied with what’s stressing you out, you probably forgot to put the milk back in the fridge or what you were Googling.
9) Your muscles and joints will ache like none other, even if you don’t play sports or work out.
Owwwww. Like I said, your brain thinks it’s in an emergency situation, and since we’re not cavemen, emergency situations are no longer running from saber tooth tigers. But, damn if your body doesn’t feel like you just ran from a saber tooth tiger for no reason.
10) If you have depression or anxiety, get ready for your symptoms to kick into overdrive.
Stress is like coffee: it takes whatever you’ve got going on and turns up the volume. If you’re already prone to depressive episodes, one’s definitely coming. If you have anxiety or panic attacks, they’re about to be more frequent. Thanks, stress!
11) Stress makes you crave your comfort foods.
Yum. Not mad at this one. Pizza’s delicious.
12) While stress is designed to give us “fight or flight” responses, some people feel completely paralyzed and feel lazy or don’t do the tasks they’re supposed to.
Stress can be overwhelming. When you’re overwhelmed, sometimes you don’t do anything, and that’s an OK response to have for the moment. Let your brain and body catch up with each other before you get back to work.
13) And hey, shout out to that time your eyelid wouldn’t stop twitching.
OMG MAKE IT STOP WTF WHY. Does anyone else get an eye twitch when they’re stressed?
What makes you stressed out? How does your body react to stress? Tell us in the comments.
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.