Can Stress Cause Numbness? Feeling the Void

Tune in to discover the surprising ways stress can lead to numbness in your body; and how to decode the signals your body is sending you.
Know someone who is stressed? Share the info!

Ever felt like you’re just going through the motions, but something feels off? This could be stress making your body feel numb. Stress can make our nerves act weird. 1

Our body sends us signs when it’s time to slow down and check in with ourselves. If you’re feeling numb, it could be a sign of too much stress. We’ll talk about these signs and what they mean. Plus, ways to lower your stress levels.

Key Takeaways

  • Stress can lead to numbness in the face and limbs, making understanding its causes vital.
  • Implementing relaxation techniques and reaching out for professional assistance can effectively manage it.
  • Identifying symptoms and preventing numbness caused by stress is of utmost importance.

This blog is part of a series on “physical symptoms of stress“. The next blog will answer: Can stress cause shaking?

Stress-Induced Numbness Mechanisms

Ever wondered why stress can make parts of us go numb? It’s like our bodies’ version of ‘freeze’ in the game of ‘fight, flight or freeze.’ When we’re under stress, our bodies are quick to release a couple of party crashers – adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can affect how blood flows through our bodies and how sensitive our nerves are.

Now, these hormones are not all bad, they’re just doing their jobs. However, their effect on the sympathetic nervous system can cause changes in how our blood vessels constrict and how our nerves work. And voila, we might start feeling a bit like we’ve been sitting on our hand for too long – numbness, tingling, or that annoying pins and needles sensation.

Don’t worry, these odd sensations are quite common when we’re stressed. They’re just our bodies reacting to the stress as if we’re in a real-life game of tag. During these episodes of anxiety, we might experience temporary numbness. Just like how long we can hold our breath underwater, the duration and severity of these numbness episodes can differ from person to person, depending on our stress levels and overall health.

Impact of Stress on Nervous System

When stress nudges our fight-or-flight button, it stirs up chaos in our nervous system. This can alter the sensitivity of our nerves and blood flow, which may feel like your arm has fallen asleep or stepped onto a bed of pins and needles. This is all due to the changes in how nerves behave when stress is playing puppeteer.

Now, let’s take a gentle stroll through four ways stress interacts with our nervous system:

  1. Stress Hormones on the Rise: When we’re stressed, our bodies produce more adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones directly affect our sympathetic nervous system, which could make you feel like you’ve lost sensation in different parts of your body. It’s like a weird magic trick, minus the fun.
  2. Sympathetic Nervous System Overdrive: The sympathetic nervous system, our body’s automatic response to danger or stress, can get carried away under continuous stress. This can lead to our senses feeling a bit off-kilter.
  3. Blood Flow Shuffle: Stress can prompt our blood vessels to tighten in certain areas, cutting down blood flow to our peripheral nerves. This might show up as a numb or tingling sensation.
  4. Fleeting Symptoms: The good news is that the numbness we feel due to stress is usually a temporary visitor. It tends to pack its bags and leave once our stress levels decrease or when we use effective stress management techniques.

The tricks up our sleeve include deep breathing techniques, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises. Take deep breathing, for example. It’s like a calming lullaby for our bodies, helping to keep our stress response in check and improve blood circulation. This could be our ticket to reducing that nagging numbness.

Addressing stress induced emotional numbness

Then there’s mindfulness. It’s our secret weapon for staying in the moment and keeping anxiety at bay – two things that might be stirring up our numbness. Plus, it’s a great excuse to dodge those “what’s for dinner?” questions for a while.

Last but not least, relaxation exercises. Think progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery, these are our trusty stress-busting superheroes. They’re all about releasing tension and promoting relaxation. Who knows, they might even help us say goodbye to stress-induced numbness.

But remember, if that numbness keeps coming back, it might be time to call in the pros. A healthcare provider or mental health professional could give us the strategies we need to tackle both our stress and the physical symptoms it’s causing.


Stress can induce numbness by affecting blood circulation and nerve sensitivity.

Managing stress through techniques like deep breathing exercises and seeking support can mitigate this numbness, emphasizing the importance of stress management for physical health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Numbness?

Stress and anxiety can cause numbness. High stress levels trigger hormones affecting blood flow and nerve sensitivity, resulting in temporary numbness. This sensation can occur in the face, hands, and feet, often resembling pins and needles. Alleviating stress via deep breathing and mindfulness can help manage this numbness.

What Is the 333 Rule for Anxiety?

The 333 rule for anxiety is a simple, practical method for managing anxious feelings. It involves focusing on three things you can see, hear, and touch. By doing this, you can shift your attention away from anxiety, promoting mindfulness. Regular use of the 333 rule can improve emotional control and coping skills during anxiety episodes.

What Are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Flare Up?

An anxiety flare-up can trigger intense symptoms. These may include a fast heartbeat, increased sweating, and muscle tension. Mental symptoms include racing thoughts, restlessness, irritability, and struggles with concentration. Physical symptoms can extend to breathlessness, chest constriction, and shaking. Behaviorally, one might avoid certain situations, seek constant reassurance, and struggle with decision-making.

Why Is the Left Side of My Body Numb and Tingling?

Experiencing numbness and tingling on your body’s left side could indicate stress affecting nerve function. This sensation can be associated with anxiety and stress responses. It’s important to address stress causes and implement relaxation methods to help ease these symptoms. If the numbness continues or intensifies, especially if other concerning symptoms accompany it, it’s advisable to seek expert advice.

  1. Anxiety Numbness: Why It Happens and How to Deal ([]
Alex Reijnierse
Alex Reijnierse

Alex Reijnierse is a stress management expert with over a decade of experience in helping individuals effectively manage and reduce stress. He holds a Master of Science (MSc) and has a background in high-pressure environments, which has given him firsthand experience in dealing with chronic stress.

The articles on this website are fact-checked, with sources cited where relevant. They also reflect personal experiences in dealing with the effects of stress and its management. When in doubt, consult with a certified healthcare professional. See also the disclaimer.