Do you understand the differences between kinds of stress? It’s easy to lump everything into the same category – after all, feeling stressed is usually overwhelming enough as it is, so most people don’t bother trying to break it down into boxes.

But the truth is that different types of stress have different effects on our bodies. And it even varies by gender. For women, emotional stress (as opposed to, say, physical stress like a lack of sleep or new activity) can carry a far harsher consequence for your body, especially your heart.

Emotional Stress Puts Women’s Hearts At Risk

Young and middle-age women may be more vulnerable to emotional stress because they face considerable burden of stressors in everyday life such as managing kids, marriage, jobs and caring for parents, Vaccarino said. Biology may also play a role — for example, a greater propensity towards abnormal blood vessel function during emotional stress, such as exaggerated constriction of coronary or peripheral blood vessels.

Healthcare providers should be aware of young and middle-age women’s special vulnerability to stress and “ask the questions about psychological stress that often don’t get asked,” Vaccarino said.

“If they note that their patient is under psychological stress or is depressed, they should advise the woman to get relevant help or support from mental health providers, stress reduction programs or other means.”

– via News on Heart.org

Our body’s response to stress – like everything else when it comes to health – doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The systems are all interlinked and one element changing (for example, losing sleep or taking a new supplement) can affect numerous other parts of your body.

For example, emotional stress has a unique impact on your adrenal system. But if your adrenal system is knocked out of a balance it can negatively affect your sleep patterns. That lost sleep constitutes physical stress, and can in turn create a whole new set of hurdles to reclaiming internal balance.

This just means that being aware of your body and mind, being honest with yourself about how you feel and what you need, is more important than ever. Small changes can have big impacts, both positive and negative. Tracking your emotions is one of your best tools to staying in control of your body, mind, and spirit.

Below you’ll see just a few of the ways that emotional stress can manifest as physical ailments.

The Physical Pain Of Emotional Stress

Tension headaches

There’s a good chance your headache is due to stress — especially if you’re a woman. Tension headaches are the most common form of headaches, with 30% to 80% of adults occasionally suffering from them, and women are twice as likely to get them. Usually caused by tense muscles in the neck and scalp, tension headaches interrupt your day with mild to moderate pain or pressure around the forehead or back of the head and neck.

Chest pain

We’re willing to bet you’ve experienced this one and didn’t even associate it with stress. (Although chest pain can indicate much more serious conditions, so if you suffer from frequent chest pain, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.) The link between stress and chest pain has doctors stumped, but research has supported the theory that the two are related.

According to Science Daily, more than 20,000 people went to the hospital in 2006 reporting chest pain that was not caused by heart disease or other conditions. One study found that men are more likely than women to experience it when faced with life or work stress, and women are more likely than men to suffer from it when dealing with anxiety and depression.

Upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation & nausea

Stress and Pepto-Bismol were made for each other. Since your digestive system is highly sensitive and full of nerves, it can have a hard time dealing with your stress. You might experience stomachaches or nausea in rare, extremely high-stress situations like going through a breakup; or the symptoms might be more persistent and caused by small, daily stressors like your condescending boss or making a deadline.

Irritable bowel syndrome — a condition affecting 20% of U.S. adults that causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation — is highly associated with stress and anxiety.

– via www.hellawella.com

How do you work to combat the emotional stress in your life?