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We all need a helping hand sometimes. Mostly because our lives are busy and, well, stressful. If you are wondering why you aren’t feeling at your best, it could be a sign of being stressed. Often sneaky and hard to spot unless you are looking for it, stress can manifest itself in a few different ways. Here are some of them to help you take a look at your stress levels!
Common signs that you are stressed
Some people may feel these signs and think they are unrelated. Others may not even know that they are stressed until they connect the dots between the symptoms and their stress levels. They can be broken down into two categories:
Physical signs: These would be described as physical changes that you can see or feel in your body. Sometimes they are subtle and other times they are very obviously causing you problems (even if you don’t know the cause).
Emotional signs: These tend to be challenging when it comes to spotting them. You’ll notice emotional changes, perhaps, but they often get ignored or misinterpreted. These tend to be subtle at first but will get more pronounced as your anxiety rises.
What are common self-reflective signs of stress?
Everyone feels them in a different order, and some may get all or just one of these. It depends on the individual and their stress level, amongst other things:
Common physical signs of stress:
Indigestion or lack of appetite: Maybe a meal just isn’t sitting right and it turns you off of that particular food for a bit. Perhaps it’s something like you can only eat half of a meal before you’re full. Or, you don’t feel hungry at all. These don’t mean that something is wrong with your stomach, but rather your body is too stressed out to have an appetite.
On the other end of the scale, some people actually find that they can’t stop eating. You binge-eat and over-indulge on “feel good” food, but it never seems to be enough.
Feeling tense and aching all the time: From muscle soreness to grinding your teeth to just feeling uneasy, it’s all stress. It can often feel like you’re waiting for something to pounce on you, too. If you just can’t get your muscles to relax with a very hot bath, it could be too much stress!
Getting sick easily: This could be simply feeling ill, or actually getting ill with a temperature, a cough, and everything. The more stressed out we are, the more our body has to work to protect itself. This means that our immune systems will weaken and it’s easier to get sick.
Needing “a fix” more often: Whether it’s smoking or drinking alcohol, those who enjoy these popular “fixes” may find that you need them more often and even in larger amounts when stress levels climb.
Common emotional signs of stress:
Sadness or depression: If you’re just feeling blue, or struggling with true depression that makes it hard to rise in the morning, it could be stress. The harder we have to work, the harder it gets to keep up energy and happiness.
Racing thoughts, often on a loop: This could be racing thoughts about a specific anxiety trigger or worry, or it could be just random thoughts all in a jumble over and over again. Many feel as though “they are going crazy” because those racing thoughts never stop.
Inability to focus or process information: If you are struggling to focus on work that you normally love, it could be stress. Or, if someone is talking to you and you just simply can’t process it, it isn't that you’re not listening (we assume), this is also stress.
What to do about spotting signs of stress
If any of these are sounding familiar, don’t fear! Stress is a part of our daily lives and it isn’t a death sentence! If you find you are struggling with physical and/or emotional signs of stress, you can get help. You can reach out to someone who can help you relax, or you can practice some exercises on your own.
The most important thing to do is to understand, and acknowledge, what your body is trying to tell you! Just like when your stomach rumbles when you're hungry, all of these signs are communication devices. The more in-tune you are with yourself, the easier it’ll be to give your body what it needs.
Stress is sneaky and challenging to deal with at first, but as you get to know your body’s signs and signals, it’ll get easier. You’ll also notice that you will start to recognize those signs faster and easier, too!