DLG Logo

How to Tell if Stress is Making You Tired and Sick

How to tell if stress is making your tired and sick

Count how many times you say yes to the following questions:

  • Do you often experience stressful situations?
  • Do you often feel tired or fatigued for no apparent reason?
  • Do you often get less than 8 hours of sleep?
  • Do you often feel anxious or depressed?
  • Do you often feel overwhelmed or confused?
  • Do you often have a lower sex drive than you’d prefer?
  • Do you tend to gain weight easily?
  • Do you have high blood pressure?
  • Do you often attempt to reduce your body weight but keep gaining it?
  • Do you often crave sweets, breads, and carbs?
  • Do you often experience memory or concentration issues?
  • Do you often experience tension, headache, or muscle tightness, in the neck, shoulders, or jaw?
  • Do you often experience digestive problems such as gas, bloating, ulcers, heartburn, or even constipation or diarrhea?
  • Do you often get sick and run down?
  • Are you on an anxiety or depression medication?

How many of the 15 questions did you say yes to? If it was more than 5, you want to pay close attention.

I’m going to break down how these factors can all pile up, and what stress actually does to your physiology. 

I’m also going to give you remedies so you can start to say no to some of these questions.

What Stress Does To Your Body

The first reason why stress depletes your immune system is because stress increases heart rate. 

When you go to bed at night, your heart rate needs to come down. 

If you’re experiencing a lot of the symptoms I just asked about, your mind is racing, your heart rate is high, and you’re not sleeping well.

Your body is under strain, and you’re not going to recover as well during your sleep. That leaves your immune system wide open.

Stress is directly tied to your blood pressure as well. One of the biggest factors for viral deaths during the pandemic was high blood pressure.

Cholesterol is also going to increase due to higher stress, but cholesterol alone isn’t the problem. It becomes a problem when it gets oxidized. 

This will leave your immune system vulnerable, and raise blood sugar.

Insulin is also going to be negatively impacted by cortisol (your stress hormone) and add more weight to your body.

If you come into contact with a virus or cancer, the higher your blood sugar is, the worse off you will be. In fact, cancer feeds off of blood sugar!

Insulin resistance leads to an increase in anxiety and depression. 

Of course, that leads to more stress, and then we’re medicated for it, which depletes the immune system further and ages us with more stiffness.

If you have recently found yourself more stiff than normal, this is directly connected to the stress levels inside your body. 

Recovery Index

Your recovery index, or heart rate variability, is one of the most important numbers when it comes to health. You can get a wearable watch, strap, or ring to monitor it, or even use your phone to track it.

When you’re looking at your heart rate variability, this number needs to be high. 

The higher you can get it, the closer to 100, the more resistant you will be to the stress you’re under. That’s a good predictor of immune health.

You want your heart rate to be going down, obviously not too low, but somewhere around the 60s.

This is going to lead to more graceful aging, which means less sickness and a stronger immune system. 

If you’re under high amounts of stress, the body is using its resources to handle it. 

Memory, concentration, and overall immunity are going to take a hit from this.

When these things are going on and we get run down easily, we start throwing medications into the mix.

We’re leaving our immune system wide open. So what can we do about it?

Increase Your Stress Resilience

Stress resilience is directly tied to your heart rate variability number. 

We can’t manage stress. It’s hard to stop the accelerators of life when it comes to deadlines and unexpected events. 

What you can do is strengthen your body’s ability to deal with stress. 

One of my favorite ways to do this is through nutrition, or lack thereof, fasting.

This is one of the best ways to strengthen the resilience of your body.

If you don’t have any food to eat, your body has to learn stress resilience and how to rely on less fuel.

Research from California shows that a 3-day, very low-carb fast causes the body to start cleaning itself up, and actually bolsters the immune response.

Another good way to increase stress resilience is by taking cold showers. 

It’s going to be cold, but it gives your body the stress response. It will lower your heart rate, and increase heart rate variability and resilience.

Shift Your Focus

I know there’s stuff in your life that’s not easy to adjust, but the muscle of your brain can be built for gratitude.

You can either feed happiness or feed stress and worry. You can’t be stressed and grateful at the same time.

One way I like to do this is by taking a minute-long gratitude break to shift my focus to something that’s going right in my world.

There will always be something positive that you can focus on during that time.

Paced Breathing

The impact of paced breathing on stress and the immune system is phenomenal. 

Paced breathing is a 5 second deep breath in, and 5 second deep breath out. 

Do that for a minute while focusing on what you’re thankful for. 

That’s a powerful activity that you could start today. It’s going to have an impact on your blood sugar levels right away, which a lot of people struggle with, and could lower your blood pressure as well.

Adaptogenic Herbs

The following 4 are my favorite adaptogenic herbs for impacting cortisol, the stress hormone in the body:

  • Holy Basil
  • Rhodiola
  • Ginseng
  • Ashwagandha 

Ashwagandha is a mouthful to say, but has actually been shown to cause a 30% reduction in cortisol levels.

It’s going to have an impact on your insulin resistance, anxiety, weight, and even your stiffness.

Make sure you’re making nutritional changes like fasting, thinking of gratitude, and paced breathing. 

These will take you a long way, but if you need to use something to help you through a tough period, look to adaptogenic herbs.

Sleep

If you’re struggling sleep-wise, your heart rate variability is going to be lower. If you’re waking up a lot, your heart rate is going to be higher.

30% of Americans’ sleep get insufficient sleep every single night. That’s a 3rd of you reading this right now!

This is a massive problem that gets brushed over, and we try to take substances like drugs and alcohol to help us to sleep.

The biggest hack for better sleep is to get electronics out of the room. This is going to have a profound impact on your sleep.

Another thing that has helped me is getting some movement before bed. 

You shouldn’t be eating before bed, because the later that you eat, the worse sleep you’re going to get.

The later that you drink, specifically alcohol or caffeine, the worse your sleep is going to be.

If you can eat earlier in the day, cut caffeine early in the day, cut alcohol around dinner time, and get a walk in, you’re going to be ready to sleep.

You can also try doing an Epsom salt bath, which will help you relax and get your system into a higher heart rate variability, and lower heart rate.

Melatonin is another choice, but you don’t want to use it longer-term because you can become reliant on it. 

You want to teach your body how to get rest and recovery on its own.

Movement

Exercise lowers the risk of cancer by 20% and lowers your risk of dying early by 40%.

One workout can lower your blood pressure for up to 16 hours.

So regular movement is going to increase your immunity. I like to do 10-minute workouts, and you can check out some of them here.

You can do something as simple as going on a walk or a bike—just try to get movement in every single day.

Summary

Those are the steps for bolstering the immune system. Understand that if you’re stressed, there are natural ways to get going in the right direction.

In terms of the stress that is causing aging, stiffness, and memory issues, I made a video on the top 5 foods that are making you feel and look older than you are, which you can find here.

related articles