When you're overwhelmed, you know it in your gut. That’s not just a figure of speech: Your stomach actually does sense when you're stressed. The gastrointestinal tract is connected to the brain by many nerves that control normal colon contractions, and experiencing stress can trigger an autonomic nervous system response, which can cause abdominal discomfort.
In other words, stress can literally make you sick.
However, there are those of us who detour around the digestive system during stressful times. The very same stress triggers the body's fight-or-flight response, which reduces levels of feel-good endorphins and increases muscle tension. For some people, feeling frazzled messes with their heads, and stress manifests itself as a powerful headache.
So are you a brain stressor or a stomach stressor? Most of us seem to be one or the other — which explains why your best friend may get physically sick when things get hectic, while you just want some peace and quiet in a dark room, along with a powerful painkiller. Of course, the best route is to understand what triggers stress and do our best to minimize it. Learn to take it easy!
Stress & Your Sex Life
Not only can stress give you a stomachache or a splitting headache, but it can also wreak havoc on your sex life. Furthermore, the stress responses of men and women differ, so it’s not always easy to read each other. For example, it is believed that women experience a decrease in libido as a result of stress. Not only will you likely be sleeping less, eating poorly, and not taking care of yourself (all surefire ways to kill your libido), but also your body might be shutting down sexually, which is due to ancestral cues: In the early days of mankind, sex came with a big risk — pregnancy — and that meant that women weren’t always eager to get down and dirty with just anyone. During times of stress (perhaps lack of food, increased danger from animals, etc.), women’s bodies would likely view sex as a giant risk. This might have caused their libidos to drop, and some anthropologists theorize that this is why, thousands of years later, our libidos drop during stressful times as well. Of course, our stress is more likely to involve work projects, school bake sales, and traffic, but our bodies might still respond all the same.
On the other hand, men don’t have the same biological reaction. Sex in the wild wasn’t that risky for men, and in fact, the feel-good endorphins released following orgasm might have helped them to relax during dangerous times. This explains why modern man might crave a wild sack session after a particularly heated day at the office or an energetic game of pickup football with his friends. The inner caveman needs sex to relax. Women, on the other hand, need to wind down before getting busy. So the next time your libido goes haywire after a long day at work, decompress with a glass of wine and a hot bath. After an hour or so, you might find that your sexual desire has shot right back up!