08/06/2014 11:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Unexpected Signs You're Totally Stressed Out

By Corrie Pikul

1. You've got a minor yet noticeable cut that just won't go away.

bandaid People keep asking you how you hurt yourself and you have to jog your memory to remember (Were you chopping carrots? Washing the vegetable peeler?). Studies have shown that psychological stress can affect the body's ability to heal itself. People who showed higher than normal levels of stress took longer to heal from skin wounds, minor surgical procedures and even blisters. There's ample evidence that stress causes a release of chemicals (like cortisol and glucocorticoids) that get in the way of the healing process at numerous key steps and can also leave the wound more vulnerable to infection.

2. You're constantly muttering, "Excuse me," under your breath.

woman covering mouth
For the past few weeks, you've been burping like crazy — odorless, benign-seeming little burps that come so often, you've almost stopped noticing them. You're probably just swallowing small amounts of air and immediately burping them back up again, says Robynne Chutkan, MD, a Maryland-based gastroenterologist and the author of Gutbliss. (Put your hand on the upper part of your stomach, just under your chest: It's probably stretched tight like a drum, says Chutkan). This is something people tend to do when they're stressed or anxious. It may be due to shallow breathing, an obsessive reliance on gum or mints, or excessive nervous chattering. Sometimes, the burping and apologizing can turn into an unconscious tic or coping mechanism, experts say. In those cases, the best way to make it go away is to address the underlying stress — in other words, take a vacation!

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