Take a deep breath before you keep reading—stress comes with side effects that are, well, stressing us out.
Stress causes hair loss.
The average person loses 50-100 hairs per day. But when you’re stressed out, up to three-quarters of your hair can fall out, thanks to a sex hormone called androgen that (temporarily) messes with your follicles. To combat the effects, make sure you’re eating a balanced diet that encourages healthy hair growth—think salmon (for the protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids), walnuts and walnut oil (for the biotin and vitamin E), and lentils (for the protein, iron, and biotin).
Stress can kill your sex drive.
Researchers hypothesize that the stress hormone cortisol can lead to low levels of physical arousal for women. The cure? Sex, actually—it’s been shown to actually relieve stress. Exercise can help as well, by increasing blood flow (including to the genitals).
Stress can mess with your skin.
When under stress, your body releases hormones like cortisol, which can increase your skin’s oil production and cause breakouts. It can also cause flare-ups of pre-existing skin conditions, like eczema. For chronic conditions, make sure you’re sticking to your treatment plan during stressful times and using noncomedogenic makeup and skincare products.
Stress makes you forgetful and absent-minded.
Left your keys in the fridge? Blanked on a big meeting? It could be due to stress. The stress hormone cortisol reduces synapses in your pre-frontal cortex, the area of your brain that’s responsible for your short-term memory. Chronic stress can even lead to long-term problems with information processing. Activities like yoga and meditation can help keep your mind sharp when you’re going through a stressful period.
Stress can make you achey.
Your body produces hormones that increase muscle tension and pain sensitivity when you’re stressed—a combination that can lead to backaches, a tight jaw, and shoulder and neck pain. Try to relieve the stress-induced aches by exercising 30 minutes a day—working out releases hormones that decrease pain—and finish up with stretches for your neck, shoulders, and back.