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Is Stress Making You Sick?

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Give Support Without Burning Out

Shots

Robin Utrecht/LightRocket via Getty Images

Is Chronic Stress Making You Sick?

Doctors are noticing a disturbing pattern of symptoms and ailments in people with otherwise normal health -- and it's the physical traces that chronic stress is leaving on our bodies from dealing with life in a pandemic.

Research shows that high levels of stress over an extended period of time can drastically alter physical function and affect nearly every organ system. And you don’t even have to have novel coronavirus to feel the strain.

Eight months into the pandemic, alongside a divisive election cycle and racial unrest, those effects are showing up in hair loss, headaches, cracked teeth, and shingles.

Learn to recognize the symptoms of chronic stress

BONUS: Help others to stay mentally strong during lockdown

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Hanna Barczyk for NPR

Helping Hands Need A Break, Too

Speaking of stress, sometimes it feels like we’re being pulled in too many directions by those that need our help -- especially if we’re struggling to keep our own lives together in these tough times.

If you’re feeling anxious, sad, and bad for not being able to help others enough, you may have what mental health professionals are calling “compassion fatigue.”

But you can manage it by shifting your perspective and taking small steps if you feel overwhelmed.

Read on for advice on how to keep from burning out while supporting others. 

BONUS: Learn to cultivate joy with these eight skills

 

Krisanapong Detraphiphat/Getty Images

Water Or A Sports Drink? These Brains Cells May Know Which You Need

You know how after a tough workout, you drink water and it just doesn’t seem like enough? That’s probably because your body is also craving salt and minerals -- the kind you find in Gatorade and other sports drinks.

Scientists have tapped into mouse brains and discovered that there are two types of  thirst and they are triggered by two different kinds of brain cells -- one for water and one for salts. And these areas in the brain also help regulate our blood pressure.

Find out how the research could one day improve athletic performance.
 

More of this week's health stories from NPR

Be prepared to vote safely

How COVID-19 patients are fighting false information about the disease

Why Americans are dying at higher rates than other countries
We hope you enjoyed these stories. Find more of NPR's health journalism on Shots and follow us on Twitter at @NPRHealth.

Your guest Shots editor,

April Fulton
What do you think of today's email? We'd love to hear your thoughts, questions and feedback: shots@npr.org
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