Tingling, prickling or numbness: these sensations can be felt by our whole body. Also known as paraesthesia: a disorder in our sensory perception that can, in addition to tingling, also cause itching or tickling sensations.
It can be tough to recognise tingling sensations and attribute them to stress related symptoms. As tingling in the body can also originate from more severe problems. It is important to take an honest look at yourself. Do you suffer more from tingling on busy days and does it disappear when you relax? In that case there is a significant chance that the tingling is caused by stress or a burnout.
When you are not sure of the nature of your tingling sensations it is a good idea to seek medical advice.
Tingling can be of a temporary nature or last longer. The feeling is often described as a prickling, numb or sleeping sensation, a sedated feeling or a burning sensation. If you have tingling in your hands and feet, then it can be hard to grab on to things. The sense of touch in your hands is disturbed, causing your hands to feel numb and sedated.
If one of your feet tingles, then you might stumble. A sleeping foot makes it hard to feel how to put your foot down on the ground. The sensation of a ‘sleeping’ foot will disappear quickly. Blood circulation was decreased for a short while and when you start moving your blood will circulate properly again and the sleeping sensation will disappear.
However, a tingling sensation in your foot can last longer. The cause of tingling is in that case not caused by poor blood circulation, but it has another cause.
Tingling caused by stress or a burnout
Body and mind are one. That becomes apparent once again when you suffer from physical symptoms because of stress. It is unnatural for people to be in ‘stress-mode’ for long. In nature stress is necessary to flee from danger, for example. In violent and life threatening events, stress is normal and in some cases necessary. But daily stress is disastrous for body and mind.
Your hormonal balance is upset when you suffer from stress. Too much cortisol, a stress hormone, is produced. When you have too much cortisol in the body, you can become disturbed both mentally and physically. An example is that you experience tingling in the body.
In which body part do you feel tingling?
We can perceive that prickling or sedated feeling in multiple parts of our body. We will list them for you in short:
Tingling in hands and fingers caused by stress is common. In many cases it starts with the tops of your fingers. These can for instance start to tingle when you are focusing hard. These tingling sensations can then move up to the hands and even arms. In severe cases it is not possible to use the hands during the tingling sensation.
Tingling sensations can move upward from your fingers and hands into your arm. A tingling arm can also be caused by poor blood flow. That kind of sleeping arm can for example happen if you laid down on that arm for a long time. Tingling in arm, leg or other body parts can also point to a shortage of vitamin B12.
If you feel a tingling sensation in your feet or toes, these are often caused by pressure on the nerves. Once the pressure has eased, the tingling disappears quickly. Pressure on your nerves can be caused by shoes that are too tight, sitting with your legs crossed or, for example, sitting on your feet for a long time.
A lack of vitamin B12 can also be a factor here. We will come back to this later.
Tingling in the legs can occur when there is poor blood flow to the affected limb. This can happen when you spend a lot of time sitting down, or sitting down in a wrong way, but it can also be due to stress. Your hormones are confused. These are, among other things, of great importance for a healthy blood supply to limbs. Tingling in the legs can be relieved by raising the legs. A cold shower also works well, at times.
Tingling in the face can feel severe. When your face or parts of your face feel numb, you may experience this as frightening.
One of the causes of this strange feeling is hyperventilation. Hyperventilation occurs when you don’t breathe correctly: you breathe in and out too quickly. The underlying symptom often is too much stress, overload and/or panic attacks. Another cause of a tingling in your head is depression. We’ll return to both hyperventilation and depression later in this article.
Tingling tongue and tingling lips
Tingling in the tongue or lips can be caused by psychological factors, such as anxiety disorders or depression. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also play a role.
Stress and burnout related causes for tingling
Tingling is a symptom of stress and burnout. Obviously, such a symptom does not arise by itself. Something is going wrong in your body. This can be both a physical and a psychological disturbance. Here is a brief overview of the most common causes.
Excessive stress causing a rush of cortisol
Cortisol is a stress hormone. This hormone allows you to stay alert during a stressful period or during an event. In addition, during such a cortisol rush you can perform not only at 100%, but even up to 120%.
If this very high dose of cortisol remains in your body for too long, it will cause all kinds of psychological and physical problems. Your brain will start to shrink, you will suffer from sleep problems, your muscles will be broken down, etc. Tingling sensations are also caused by too high a level of cortisol.
During stress, your body is constantly in fight or flight mode. This requires a lot of oxygen. Your heart pumps extra hard to get rid of waste as quickly as possible and to supply your muscles with oxygen-rich blood. That’s why our breathing increases.
If we breathe incorrectly, we change our air too often and therefore lose too much carbon dioxide. This will make us hyperventilate. Hyperventilation is a frightening sensation that is accompanied by heart palpitations, chest tightening, sweating, chest pressure and tingling. Breathing exercises are extremely important to prevent hyperventilation.
There are different types of depression, however, with every type you can feel light-headed. A tingling, floating feeling is also a symptom that common for depression.
The symptoms of depression are very similar to those of burnout. However, they are two isolated disorders. Depression can really overtake you completely; as if it appears out of nowhere. A burnout, on the other hand, occurs after prolonged overload, with stress being the announcer of the bad news.
High muscle tension
When we are under stress, we often unconsciously shrug our shoulders. This creates muscle tension in our shoulders and neck. Sitting in the same position behind your screen for a longer period of time also causes muscle tension. This starts on your neck, but can even negatively affect your entire posture over time.
Tension in these muscles causes tension headaches. The nerves get stimuli that not only manifest themselves in a severe headache, but also numbness and tingling.
Shortage of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin that we need for a well-functioning nervous system and immune system, the production of red blood cells and the conversion of food to energy. But B12 also has a major influence on our psychological well-being. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause stress and anxiety.
It has been scientifically shown that too low a level of vitamin B12 often occurs in people with depression, mental disorders and dementia. People with a higher dose of B12 are better able to deal with depression symptoms.
Other complaints caused by a lack of vitamin B12 are tingling in the hands and feet and muscle weakness.
If you have a healthy and varied diet, you will get enough vitamin B12. Because B12 is mainly found in animal products, vegetarians and vegans are more likely to be deficient in these vitamins.
What can be done against tingling?
When tingling or numbness is caused by stress and burnout, it is important to take a close look at yourself. Facing stress is difficult for many people. Accepting a burnout or excessive stress is difficult. When you experience physical problems due to stress, it is high time for a change.
Want to get rid of the tingling? Then you will have to say goodbye to the tension and stress. We have listed a few methods that can help you with this.
Are you able to relax? When you are suffering from stress a alot, relaxing can be difficult and even stressful. Mandatory relaxation doesn’t sound all that relaxing. Still, it is important to avoid stress by doing things you find relaxing.
That way, you restore your hormonal balance and you will be ready to go again. A good option is to exercise. For example, go for a walk through the forest to relax and your stress will quickly decrease. A warm bath or a visit to the sauna are also good options for relaxation; sweat out all your stress!
Stress can affect your breathing and this can lead to more stress. When you breathe faster, your heart rate and blood pressure also rise and that is something you notice!
The right breathing exercises allow you to instantly relax at any time, anywhere. Do you feel stressed or do you feel tingling? Then take a moment to consciously watch your breathing. By controlling your breathing, you become a lot calmer.
Herbs have a particularly beneficial effect on stress. It is not without reason that studies have been conducted for centuries about the power of herbs. For example, it is known that the scent of lavender has a relaxing effect and that chamomile helps to unwind.
Replace your cup of coffee, which thanks to the caffeine can cause you to feel hyper, with a cup of herbal tea. Put a sprig of lavender in your pillowcase for a good night’s sleep and use a rich bath oil with herbs for a relaxing soak in the evening.
Sometimes medication is needed to calm your moods. This can keep your stress levels in check and your head cool. Still, medication is not a good long-term option. At some point you will have to admit that anti-stress medication is not the solution to the problem.
Coach or therapist
Talking about problems has an enlightening effect. It is good to be able to discuss your concerns with someone. Preferably find a coach or therapist who specializes in your problems. By looking at your problems on a psychological level, you can also solve your physical issues.
Do you suffer from tingling due to stress or burnout complaints? Then don’t muddle around. By tingling your body gives a signal that it really can’t go on like this. Make sure you know how to relieve, prevent or avoid your stress factors. Don’t be afraid to ask for psychological help if you experience tingling sensations.
Does the tingling persist or are you still not sure about the origin of the tingling? Do not hesitate to seek medical advice from a doctor.
Who are we?
Milltain supports, with a team of experienced trainers, organizations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. Our training courses are aimed at managers within companies. A burnout quickly costs the organization € 70,000.
In addition to financial suffering, human suffering is great. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before you know it you are in a negative vicious circle.
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