Muscling through stress
Have you ever noticed how the shoulder that bothers you always seems to get a little sorer when times are tough? According to the American Psychological Association (APA), our muscles tense up as a reflex reaction to stress because it’s the body’s way of guarding against injury or pain. When stress is brought on suddenly and then quickly over — like when you trip and brace yourself for a fall — the muscles tense up and then release as soon as the stressor is eliminated.
Chronic stress, however, leaves muscles in a near-constant state of guardedness leaving them tense for extended periods of time. This constant state of fight or flight can cause muscle tension, muscle fatigue, and muscle weakness which can lead to further injury (per Calm Clinic). According to the Mayo Clinic, muscle tension as a symptom of stress can cause feelings of restlessness which may be expressed behaviorally as angry outbursts.
If you’re experiencing muscle tension, then you might also be susceptible to tension headaches. Johns Hopkins Medicine defines tension headaches as a persistent ache on both sides of the head that is brought on by stress and tension in the shoulders, neck, and head. Tension headaches can make you feel an underlying anxiety that causes you to lose your appetite (per Mayo Clinic).