Stress Is Kind of an Allergy, It Turns Out

So many symptoms of stress also sound like hay fever. Hives? Shortness of breath? Fatigue? If you've ever wondered whether you can be allergic to a high-stress job or task, we finally know that in a sense, yes, that's true.

Michigan State University's Adam Moeser wanted to know more about the relationship between stress and the immune system. (You know how you get sick when you're run down at work? Like that.) He studied a certain kind of stress receptor that communicates with mast cells, one of the body's immune cells, and found that they respond to stress the same way they do to allergens.

Basically, these mast cells go into overdrive, releasing histamines into the bloodstream to clear it of foreign objects, whether that means pollen, dust mites, or that dish that sets off your shellfish allergy. With stress, however, there's nothing specific for the histamines to target. Ultimately, Moeser wants to find treatments for diseases related to inflammation in the body, such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and lupus. But now that you've got this water cooler fact slash good Slack joke about stress and inflammation, you don't need to wait for Moeser's progress to put his knowledge to good use.

Lots of how we stress ourselves out at work comes from not taking enough breaks. Our concentration only decreases with time, and our ability to multitask is largely overrated. Build rest periods into your day; write them into your schedule, or get an app to remind you to stand up and stretch, walk around the block, go get a drink of water, take some deep breaths, and otherwise remind yourself to take care of your human needs.