You don’t need to test positive for COVID-19 to feel its effects, namely, the increased stress levels that many of us are facing. We all know that a certain amount of stress comes with living day-to-day during a pandemic. Simple trips to the grocery store aren’t so simple anymore…always remembering to take your mask with you…vigilantly washing your hands after every errand…all these safety measures can wear on anyone.
Here’s the thing about stress, though. It’s not always obvious. You could be suffering from chronic stress and not even know it. Here’s a look at some of the surprising symptoms of chronic stress, and helpful tips for keeping your stress in check.
Characterized by an inability to concentrate and think “clearly,” brain fog is often associated with menopause, but it’s also a telltale sign that your brain has been under stress for a prolonged period of time.
Cravings for salty or spicy foods
Research suggests that people with higher levels of sodium release lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, during stressful periods. So, does this mean that eating salt could help lower cortisol in your body? It might! So, if you find yourself craving salt, it could mean your body is trying to tell you it’s stressed. Another factor in your food cravings is lack of sleep. A tell-tale marker of stress, sleep deprivation triggers the hunger hormone, ghrelin, making you more apt to choose comfort foods like salty chips. Craving spicy foods could indicate that you’re in need of a mood boost, since spices release endorphins, your body’s feel-good chemicals.
Even after eight hours of sleep, are you waking up feeling exhausted? A few things could be at work here. For starters, stress is draining! High levels of cortisol, your brain’s stress hormone, can lead to increased fatigue, depression and anxiety. Your sleep quality could be another reason you’re finding it hard to get out of bed. If your bedtime routine involves checking your phone or watching TV, you could be sabotaging your sleep hygiene in a big way because the blue light emitted from those screens indicates to your brain that it’s time to be alert, not sleepy.
Now, for the stress busters…
Are you getting outside every day? Are you moving your body and getting your heart rate up? Are you eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies while limiting sugar and processed foods? Are you spending a little bit of time each day doing something that brings you joy? Are you laughing at least once a day? Any one of these lifestyle changes can help reduce your stress level. Try introducing one stress-fighting habit into your daily routine every week. We bet you’ll be feeling better before you know it! And don’t forget the healing power of self-care at Skin Care Institute. Scheduling your favorite skin treatments is another fabulous way to combat stress.
To learn more wellness tips or inquire about any of our services, please call us at 918.948.9639 or fill out our consultation request form today!
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A Doctor Explains the Constant Craving for Salty Foods