Impact of stress

While I didn’t feel I was stressed for our move, my body was letting me know. I finally got back to “normal” so ready to share my journey.

I got sick mid- November as you recall, started with stomach pain, then potentially stomach flu and went through a cycle of antibiotics to treat it. Then I went to Manila for my eye surgery. Got back and went though work related issues.

My clear manifestation of my stress was my resting heart rate RHR and my heart rate variability HRV, both stats oura tracks. Since onset of my illness, both stats were worse. My baseline RHR at sleep used to be around 44, HRV between 50-60. since mid November, my RHR went up to 50s and HRV went down to 20-30. I was stressed due to those stats, so I stopped using oura for few days. But when I put it on again, nothing has improved. I went back to the time I had Covid, even then my stats were normal. I tried mediating longer, going to sleep earlier, finishing meals earlier, stopped running, resume running, did more yoga, did more of less strength, read more, all trying to find the metric that would improve the stats. Nothing worked!!! I almost thought my oura was having technical problems.

Now almost 10 days into my holidays, those stats are back to “normal” without doing anything new. Magic? I guess so. It confirmed my suspicion that it was caused by stress and I needed a vacation to stop worrying, which was a major theme of 2022.

Second symptom of stress: constipation. I suffered constipation badly in my 20s, but then I kind of “healed” myself with healthy life style. I still get it from time to time but never for more than a week. But this time, it was over a month. I tried my usual tricks: more fiber, more water, more exercise, better sleep, cut down gluten/diary/processed food, you name it. None worked! I went to a specialized GI doctor, even he told me I was doing everything by the book. He suggested endoscopy which I thought was too invasive. I went to Bali, after 5 days of worry free, my digestion went back to normal again. Magic? maybe. But I think it’s also related to stress.

One of my goals for 2023 would be to worry less, learn to manage stress better.

3 thoughts on “Impact of stress

  1. That is so interesting! I hope your metrics stay in your normal range when you get back from this trip. You have been through a lot of change and stress so it makes sense that it is impacting how you feel. I definitely notice the impact of stress on my rheumatoid arthritis. I had a really stressful/overly packed trip to Chicago in early December, and then started to get a really bad flare after that. It was better in Mexico, mostly because of the warm humid weather but also the lack of stress. And then it got so bad when I got back. I told my rheumatologist about the stress before the flare and she said it’s definitely a factor, although if my RA was well managed, stress shouldn’t cause an awful flare like that. So I changed my meds. But need to be mindful about better managing my stress!

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  2. Stress has SO much of an impact on our physiology; it’s crazy, actually.

    I used to stress a lot about the quality of my food and being careful about what I ate/when. I’ve felt guilty a few times since I’ve started eating intuitively because I DO eat fewer fruits and veggies now…but also, that the stress eating rigidly caused could very well have been worse for me than making slightly less “healthy” eating choices.

    I know they say prolonged stress can be far more damaging than long-term smoking?! So I’m trying really hard to reduce stress where possible…and I’m so glad you were able to reset your stress levels with a much-deserved vacation after such a hectic and stressful move/transition/surgery/mold-on-furniture etc!.

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  3. I am so curious to learn more about the connection between brain/stress and GI tract. I always hear how they are really so closely related. Do you know of any good books on the topic? I have had some stomach/bloating issues too and I can’t seem to really pinpoint it to a food, either. I am wondering if it could have to do with stress or tension, or something like that… ? I am someone who leans toward worrying sort of as a default, so it’s something I am always working on.

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