Stress can be the underlying reason for many of our ailments. It lowers the immune system, causing us to get sick and acquire pain in the body. Stress is a normal response that actually enables us to function in a balanced manner, but while under long periods of stress, we can’t see the many symptoms it conjures up. WebMD explains stress as: “…any change in the environment that requires your body to react and adjust in response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you — and many things that you do yourself — put stress on your body. You can experience good or bad forms of stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.”
When we are overstressed, we might not even feel the stress, as it masks itself under several symptoms.
Here are 9 signs that you are overstressed and don’t even know it:
1. Your body is in pain.
We don’t listen to the whispers of the body until pain starts to scream. Under high stress levels, your body will start to break down. You can experience stomach issues, diarrhea, ulcers, tense muscles, chest pains and palpitations. You will get aches all over, arthritis will flare up, and even headaches will be screaming for your attention. Whenever you have pain in your body, become aware of it. Do not ignore the symptoms. Address what’s going on. It isn’t just stress management that helps you heal. Acceptance and awareness that change is required is the first step to deal with stress management.
2. You aren’t sleeping well.
Any fluctuation in sleep patterns, whether sleeping too much from exhaustion or insomnia, needs to be addressed. Meditation, exercise and a healthy, balanced diet help with sleep issues. But ultimately, you need to find a root to the problem. Are you worrying too much at night? When you are sleeping, are you having nightmares? Our daily events get played out in the subconscious. Sleep, or lack of it, gets affected. Stress impedes a peaceful state of mind. Sleeping patterns do change with age and environmental factors; however, when you are overstressed, sleep is one of the first things that gets affected.
3. You have weight fluctuations.
Are you overeating or forgetting to eat? Stress will slow down your metabolism and you will gain weight. Change in appetite is a radar to our emotional and physical bodies and how we are being affected. If you are worrying and not addressing the issues, you might lose or gain weight rapidly. When we are overstressed, cells do not get enough oxygen. Food is energy, and what we put in the body is a sign of how we handle things. Are you eating too many sweets? Are you not eating enough? The body is a vehicle, and how we treat it is based on our mental capacity to deal with emotional issues.
4. You can’t stop thinking about work or problems.
If you can’t shut down work, finances, and other challenges for a while to find balance, stress has a hold of your life. Mark Twain said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” You cannot find a solution until you detach from the problem. The excessive chit chat of worrying can escalate to cause psychological and physical problems. If you are constantly checking your phone, emails, and other forms of communication from work, it is time to really face what’s important in your life. Stress is suffocating you.
5. You can’t sit still.
Avoiding being still is a huge sign of being overstressed. If you can’t go for a walk, sit in contemplation, do gentle stretching exercises or just be with your own thoughts, there is a chance you are overly stressed. If anxiety is constant and you can’t relax to even read a book, it’s time to address what’s causing you to avoid being still. Sometimes, the mind is the worst enemy. It’s time you get help with managing your anxiety and fears. Stress can be triggered by an imbalance in the emotional body. Things we avoid get pushed further and further down until we feel it in other areas of the body.
6. You have little patience with others.
One of the first symptoms of being overstressed is the inability to have patience or tolerance with others. Our loved ones get the wrath from us being under tremendous stress. If you are snapping or getting angry quickly, most likely you are being tormented by too much in your life. It’s not easy to carry the world on your shoulders. Sometimes, we need to be vulnerable and ask for help. The lack of patience in others, and in yourself, is a sign that you need to slow down and smell the roses.
7. You have major mood swings.
Our mental health gets affected when stress levels rise. If you find yourself happy one moment, and then immediately crying or enraged, your hormones may be affected by too much stress. Bottling up things inside and carrying everything alone doesn’t help. Get help. Talk to others. Make time to find out what’s truly causing you to behave this way. Stress does not only injure the body, but it also compromises and hurts relationships. Stress can enhance anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, addictions (from alcohol, drugs, sex or food) and other mental health issues.
8. You have hair loss.
According to Carolyn Jacob, MD, founder and medical director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, “Typically, people shed about 100 hairs a day. Most people don’t even notice. Sometimes, a significant stress may spark a change in your body’s routine physiological functions, and cause a disproportionate number of hairs to go into the resting phase at the same time. Then three to four months later, sometimes longer, all those resting hairs are shed. The effect can be alarming. The types of events that disrupt the normal hair cycle can be caused by the substantial physiological stresses on your body.” So, if you are experiencing a change in hair loss by the masses, it’s time you take a look at what’s emotionally causing these physical changes.
9. You have a loss of libido.
The loss of libido is one of the subjects most people do not address under stress. They won’t even acknowledge it to themselves or their partners. Whenever stress levels increase, the stress hormone secretions responsible for sexual response get affected. Stress causes exhaustion and the inability to experience any kind of intimacy. If you are experiencing a decrease or loss in your libido, it may be time to try stress management and other relaxation techniques. Ultimately, your mate shouldn’t be affected by outer issues that aren’t part of your loving relationship. Express your fear and your concerns. Once it’s in the open, it no longer has power over you.
Life can sometimes be challenging. We are constantly putting tremendous demands on the emotional, physical and spiritual bodies. It’s up to us to check in with ourselves and get real about what’s important. A little ailment today can land us in the hospital tomorrow. Stress is a silent killer. Let’s listen to the changes that happen in our bodies so we can address them early on. Life is too short to be living in constant chaos.