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Unhealthy Stress

Stress: 5 Signs that your levels are unhealthy

Meta Description:   Stress has been recognised as the basic cause of more than 60 percent of all human illnesses and diseases by The American Medical Association.

Five signs that your stress levels are unhealthy

Stress has been recognised as the basic cause of more than 60 percent of all human illnesses and diseases by The American Medical Association. That means that stress is essentially the number one killer. That is how serious the effects of stress are. 

Nowadays, the need to earn more money, be thinner, be smarter, have the best car, get the promotion and so many other goals can put pressure on your body and mind. People have been suffering from professional, mental and physical burnout for years, although only now there has been proper spotlight shone on to the effects that stress can cause and how stress can manifest into physical ailments. 

What causes stress?

When outside factors cause negative emotions, our body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues, explains Mayo Clinic. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation and works as a natural, built-in alarm system as a warning that there is a threat. 

Once the outside threat is neutralised, the body goes out of ‘flight or fight mode’, and the cortisol levels drop. However, if the body is constantly under stress, overexposure to cortisol can put you at risk of experiencing many illnesses such as digestive issues, anxiety and depression (among other things).

There are many reasons that people would find themselves totally stressed out. Bills and other life situations can really be hard to handle, especially when there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. 

Genetics has also been linked to how well people are able to handle stress. Everyone has a different stress threshold. 

How do you know if stress is starting to take a toll on your life?

As mentioned, stress is a normal part of modern life and to be fair, a little bit of pressure is a great motivator. But, stress in excess can be fatal, and there are ways to tell whether it is time to take a bit of a break. When your stress starts to manifest itself into physical ailments (some of which may be mentioned below) it may be time to see a doctor and discuss your options for treatment. 

People have died from illnesses eventually caused by being under tons of stress. Stress can lower your immune system and even cause you to make rash, dangerous choices. 

Your body has a visceral response when it is under stress. Yes, mental stress has physical symptoms. When you are under stress, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten and blood pressure rises says Web MD.

Below is a list of a few common symptoms that people experience when they are over-stressed: 

Stomach pain

One of the most common physical manifestations of stress is a stomach ache. Children usually complain that their stomach hurts when they are going through stressful situations. Kids can’t really articulate that they are stressed out, so they point out the physical symptoms that they are experiencing when they are in certain circumstances. This is in fact, a great way to emphasise just how much stress influences our health and well-being. 

Bear in mind that a stomach ache can also indicate other underlying conditions, so it is advisable to seek medical attention to get a proper diagnosis. 


When you are under a large amount of stress, you will most likely experience headaches. These headaches can range from a mild, weighty feeling at the back of the eyes to full-on stress migraines. Migraines can be absolutely debilitating. There is also a variation of eye and head pain that is classified as tension headaches that literally come from the strain of tensing the muscles in the face and neck.

In an article about how stress and emotions can trigger migraines, WebMD discusses how, when you’re having a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”, you shouldn’t be surprised if a migraine develops in the evening. 

“Research shows that a stressful event or a particularly stressful day often occurs 2 to 3 days before a migraine attack. To see if this is true for you, keep a migraine diary. Over the course of a few months, it can help you find patterns about when you get headaches and it can also help you to pinpoint what kinds of stress may make it more likely for you to get them.”


Stress is usually triggered by outside experiences, all of which take a toll on the mind. If something is bothering you, chances are you will think about it constantly; especially when you are trying to find a solution to a problem, or trying to deal with an event emotionally. 

When something is bothering us, it can often make its way into our dreams. Nightmares can range from dreams about PTSD-causing events, to terrors about monsters and scary, supernatural things. When we speak of nightmares caused by stress, they are commonly referred to as stress-dreams. 

Treatment for stress

There are many different types of treatment to combat stress. Most times, doctors will prescribe a form of relaxant. The medication acts like calming tablets and other anxiety aids are also available over the counter. 

A great option to consider is Telehealth, which is available on the Affinity Day-to-Day and Combined Plans. Besides the cost of having medical aid or medical insurance, or even paying out of pocket for private care, other factors in getting to the doctor or hospital can also be quite pricey.

Making your way to the doctor can be expensive, depending on where you live. For those without private transport, public transport may not be an option (especially currently as we are experiencing a pandemic – the Coronavirus outbreak) – this, and a lack of funds is often the deciding factor for many patients when it comes to canceling appointments.

These factors are all part of the reasoning behind Telehealth, and many people are opting to be consulted over the phone, or via the internet instead of actually leaving their home.

The Telehealth benefit is being utilised more often due to its convenience. The primary healthcare professionals are able to prescribe medication up to Schedule 4 or if necessary, they will refer you to your nearest primary healthcare facility or Affinity Health network GP.

You can contact Affinity at 0861 11 00 33 to learn more about the Telehealth benefit.

Living a healthy lifestyle that has a proper sleep schedule can also be beneficial. Exercise, stay hydrated and get loads of fresh air and sunlight. All of these things help to release tension. Cut down on caffeine as it elevates your heart rate and it has been proven to increase anxiety levels.

Journaling is also a great way to monitor and keep track of your feelings and emotions as they surface while recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, says Healthline. Try to make two lists, things that stress you out and things that help you relax or make you happy. 

Keeping a journal can help relieve stress and anxiety, especially if you focus on the good stuff.


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