8 Silent Signs of Stress You Might Be Ignoring

Headaches? Sudden weight gain? Your body might be feeling your stress. Use these simple home remedies and feel like yourself again in no time.

1 / 8
Female feet standing on weight scalePhoto: Shutterstock

Unusual weight changes

“Stress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which changes the way you metabolize fat, protein and carbs, leading to weight gain or loss,” says Dr. Shanna Levine, a primary care physician and clinical instructor of medicine at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York. Stress can also cause you to overeat or undereat.

What to do: Snack on nuts. The protein will help if you’re undereating, and the fibre will fill you up if you’ve been bingeing.

Dropping pounds unexpectedly? Learn about the diseases that can cause sudden weight loss.

2 / 8
Stressed woman lying in bedPhoto: Shutterstock

A fuzzy brain

Too much cortisol can make it harder to concentrate and cause memory problems, anxiety and depression, says Levine.

What to do: Try to relax until you regain your focus. Practice closing your eyes and concentrate only on your breath.

Follow these lifestyle tips to boost your brain health.

3 / 8
Woman with itchy skinPhoto: Shutterstock

Hives

When your body experiences stress, it releases a chemical called histamine and then—boom—hives galore. Also, if your immune system is weakened by worries, your skin can become irritated as a result of new sensitivities to things such as heat, lotions or detergent.

What to do: Place a cool, damp towel on the affected area. If that doesn’t work, take an antihistamine.

Here are more skin changes you should never ignore.

4 / 8
Overworked businessmanPhoto: Shutterstock

Headaches

It’s common for your muscles to tense up when you’re under pressure, which can cause a pounding head. Prone to migraines? Stress can trigger them or make them worse.

What to do: If you don’t want to take ibuprofen, try inhaling lavender essential oil or dabbing peppermint oil—diluted in a carrier oil—on your temples when the pain starts.

Check out this list of things that could be triggering your headaches.

5 / 8
Stomach achePhoto: Shutterstock

Sour stomach

Stress can cause the body to produce more digestive acid, resulting in heartburn. “It can also slow the emptying of food from the stomach, which causes gas and bloating and may even increase the number of times your colon contracts, leading to cramping and diarrhea,” says Dr. Deborah Rhodes, a Mayo Clinic internal medicine physician.

What to do: Take an over-the-counter antacid or drink ginger tea.

Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience these stomach pains.

6 / 8
Man combing his hairPhoto: Shutterstock

Hair falling out

Stress may push your hair fol­licles into a resting phase, causing the hair to fall out a few months later. It can also cause the body’s immune system to attack your follicles.

What to do: Be patient. Once your stress level returns to normal, your hair should start growing back.

Try these natural remedies to help treat hair loss.

7 / 8
Woman blowing her nose in winterPhoto: Shutterstock

Perpetual cold

When stress suppresses the immune system, it’s harder to fight off bugs. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University infected volunteers with a cold virus; those who reported in a survey that they were dealing with many stresses were twice as likely to get sick as those with fewer problems.

What to do: One study found that zinc supplements or lozenges can shorten the length of a cold by about a day if taken within 24 hours of feeling sick. Regular exercise—although nothing too strenuous if you’re still feeling ill—and plenty of sleep can also give your immune system a boost.

Don't miss these natural cold remedies that really work!

8 / 8
Woman with acnePhoto: Shutterstock

Acne

Cortisol is the culprit here, too—it causes skin glands to make more oil. Along with dirt and dead skin cells, the oil can get trapped inside hair follicles, producing pimples.

What to do: Topical creams containing benzoyl peroxide, which has antibacterial properties, or salicylic acid, which can keep pores from clogging, may clear up acne if applied regularly. For a more nat­ural approach, wash your face with green tea or apply pure aloe.

Next, learn about the different types of stress —and how to ease them.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada