August 07, 2020
Have you experienced any of these “Stress Warnings”?
In today’s fast-paced world, where a culture of being “always on” is the norm, being in a state of perpetual stress is common. That “state” comes at a high price for you, your body, and your mind. As our schedules get busier and busier, we simply adjust to a more hectic lifestyle without even realizing it.
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat through a rapid, automatic process commonly known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction. That reaction can help you stay focused, energetic, and alert and can also help you rise to meet challenges, however, when you reach a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and your quality of life. And not everyone has the same stress level tolerance.
While you may not feel frazzled, there's a good chance there are some subtle ways your body is telling you that you're stressed. If you are living in a constant state of stress it can lead to serious health problems over time including: suppressing your immune system, upsetting your digestive and reproductive systems, increasing the risk of cardiovascular complications, and speeding up the aging process. It can even “rewire” the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to feelings of anxiousness, having a low mood, and other mental health concerns.
The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. That’s why it’s important to be aware of common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.
Here are some telltale signs that stress is impacting you, even if you feel perfectly fine.
- Jaw or tooth pain. Many people don’t realize they are grinding their teeth as it often happens at night while you sleep, but it can lead to serious discomfort during waking hours.
- Memory issues. Stress can affect your focus and how well you pay attention to details. Forgetfulness if often a telltale sign of being stressed.
- Digestive issues and feeling dehydrated. Heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation are all linked to high levels of stress – as stress builds your body can produce higher levels of digestive acids and affect how quickly or slowly food is emptied from the stomach. Stress can cause your adrenal glands to be overworked and fatigued. It can leave you feeling like you can’t drink enough water and can’t maintain your energy level – often a spike in energy that latter flattens out.
- Muscles are sore and tense. Under stress, your muscles involuntarily tense up due to the “fight or flight” response which can cause pain over time. Massages may help, but it’s only a temporary fix and doesn’t get to the root of the problem/stress.
- Sleep issues. Stress often leads to issues sleeping as you take your worries to bed with you. Not getting enough sleep is often a common issue, but if you want to stay in bed all day or find it impossible to get out of bed, it could be a sign of a much more serious issue and you should seek medical advice. Stress can also cause very vivid and easily memorable dreams.
- You are more irritable, find issues with everything, and can’t make decisions. Stress is closely related to fear and can often make our emotions, especially negative ones, heightened. Stress also may interfere with hormones and the ability to experience pleasure and remain motivated. It can be hard to focus and make decisions that where once easy to make.
- Headaches. Stress leads to muscle tension which can also cause tension headaches or even migraines. If you notice worse or more frequent headaches than usual, it may be your body sending you a message.
People react differently to stress and there are additional factors that can influence your own personal stress tolerance level. You know your body best so, it’s important to take time to notice of any changes that have crept up over time – just because they have become your new normal doesn’t mean you should simply ignore them, it may be time to seek medical attention.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
- "Stress effects on the body", American Psychological Association, 2020, accessed 11 June 2020, https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body
- Cherney, Kristeen, “Effects of Anxiety on the Body”, Health Line, 28 March 2020, accessed 11 June 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/effects-on-body#1
- “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior”, Mayo Clinic, 2020, accessed 11 June 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987