Feeling nausea due to work-related stress.

Can Stress Cause Vomiting?

Question: I work in a fast-paced environment. Whenever I feel the pressure and stress at work, I feel nauseous and at times, have to vomit. Does stress induce vomiting and how can I prevent this?

Nausea and vomiting caused by psychological factors such as anxiousness or stress are known as psychogenic vomiting.

Other symptoms that can occur when the body experiences stress include a racing heartbeat, sweating, stomach cramps, and loose stools. To relieve or reduce stress, try these relaxation techniques:

  • Slow-paced deep breathing. It can relax and distract you from nausea.
  • Tensing up one part of your body and then slowly relaxing. For instance, clench and hold your right fist for 10 seconds. Slowly relax the muscles of your right hand and feel the tension flowing away.

These relaxation techniques should be done on a regular basis and not only when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It is also important to exercise regularly and get sufficient sleep each day.

Related: Relaxation — Good for Your Mind

Medical conditions such as indigestion, viral illness, and food poisoning can also cause nausea and vomiting.

If you have been experiencing these symptoms for a prolonged period and they do not improve after trying out different stress-reduction or stress management methods, it is advisable to consult a doctor for further assessment.

Dr Wan Jinhui
Family Physician
Associate Consultant
Woodlands Polyclinic
National Healthcare Group Polyclinics

Related: 8 Quick Things You Can Do to De-Stress Right Now

Being forgetful at Work and Spacing Out

Staring at the screen and having trouble concentrating due to stress in the workplace

Question: I have been working as a trainee bank executive after graduating. It has been about three months and I have been finding it hard to concentrate at work. I can’t seem to remember what anyone has told me or even “who is who”. I want to succeed in my work and my supervisors have been patient. However, I feel like such a failure. Now I dread the thought of going to work. What could be wrong with me?

The problems you described could be symptoms of stress. People often experience high levels of stress in the initial phase of significant life changes, such as graduating from school and starting a new job.

Usually, with time and the proactive use of social support and helpful coping strategies to reduce stress at work, the situation will improve gradually.

Here are stress management tips you can try in order to help you cope with work stress:

  • Have enough rest and proper nutrition — these basics keep your mental and physical health in a good state to function.
  • Speak to people you can trust about your emotions and difficulties. Keeping things to yourself will increase your sense of isolation and this will likely aggravate your emotional distress.
  • Get your supervisor’s and colleagues’ perspectives on your own expectations. Do so to find out if these are realistic or need adjusting.
  • Ask for the help you need. It is understandable that you need time to learn new skills in a new job.
  • Break down big tasks into smaller parts. List down a realistic number of daily work tasks. Tell yourself, ‘Well done!” each time you check off an item on the list.
  • Make time for non-work activities (e.g. exercise, hobbies, and family). Recharging yourself with enjoyable activities is as important as working hard to improve your performance.

If your symptoms have been causing you significant distress and affecting your daily functioning, or if the above stress management strategies do not help, it is important that you approach a mental healthcare professional (e.g. a psychologist or a psychiatrist. They can give you a more thorough review and offer personalised recommendations to improve your mental health.

Related: Find Help — Services for Mental Health Support

Here are some signs that indicate that you might need extra professional support:

  • Persistent depressed/irritable mood for more than two weeks
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Crying spells or temper tantrums for no reason
  • Significant increase or decrease in appetite or weight
  • Significant sleep disturbances or unusual fatigue in the daytime
  • Feelings of failure, worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts about hurting yourself or suicide

We all need an extra boost of support from time to time, so please do what is necessary to take care of your wellbeing.

Dr Lin Hong Hui
Clinical Psychologist
Psychology Service
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

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