Is it possible to be stressed but not know that you are? Apparently it is. There are a lot of stress signals we may often dismiss and attribute to mundane causes. By the time we finally get to the root of the problem, the anxiety level has already gone from bad to worse.
Stress may be manifested through one or all of the above areas: cognitive, physical, behavioural, and emotional. If you are ticking out a number of these, consider stress as a probable factor.
A cognitive response to stress deals with a person’s thought responses to a situation. If stressed, you may tend to view the world through a very negative scope. Should you start having debilitating thoughts that run along these veins: “I won’t be able to handle this”; “I’m such a loser”; etc., you better watch it. Be alert when you find yourself becoming:
- Highly forgetful – You may think it is just age creeping in
- A poor judgement caller
- Constantly worried
- A chronic negative thinker
Our emotional well-being often takes a beating in stress-filled situations. Feeling moody now and then does not signal a distressed state but if your emotions always tend to skew to the negative most of the time, you may be stressed. Know that you are stressed when you are chronically:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritable and short-fused
- Feeling unhappy
- Feeling lonely or depressed
As stress affects your emotions and psychological wellness, it simply follows that your behaviour will be a reflection of those effects. Don’t be ready to dismiss your new behaviour as a trivial development. The following may be signs you are unable to cope very well:
Development of or worsening of tics – Tics are involuntary repetitive movements such as rapid eye blinks, kicks, and the like. Anxiety usually brings these out.
Eating disorders – You may find yourself constantly binge eating. That’s one sign you are trying use food to fix feelings of anxiety. Conversely, you may not have the appetite for anything at all. Loss of appetite is another stress symptom.
Smoking, Drinking, or Drug-Taking – If these self-abusive behaviours seem to be getting more frequent or you find yourself needing these to relax, take a step back to ask why. It’s a sure sign something is wrong.
Your body is very much tied to your psyche. When your mind is distressed, your body reacts likewise. Physical symptoms are usually more difficult to hide; hence, it shows more readily. The problem is, you may tend to negate these warnings as symptomatic of other causes or as simply not too noteworthy for much consideration.
Physical signs of stress may manifest as:
Frequent bouts of the colds or flu – When stress is too much, our body’s immune system bogs down so that we aren’t as protected as before.Being highly susceptible to colds is a common clue that stress is the culprit; but this symptom is also usually ignored as a stress warning.
Chronic Exhaustion or Fatigue – Always feeling super tired but you don’t know why? You can chalk this up to stress. Your body is signalling that it cannot cope with the situation it is going through. It wants rest.
Insomnia – Your anxiety can trigger sleeping problems. Stress can make you hyper aroused so that your circadian rhythm may be thoroughly disrupted. Lack of sleep also contributes to your fatigue and weakening immune system.
Digestive Issues – Stress can trigger different kinds of gastrointestinal woes. Diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, constipation, and cramps can pointedly mark that you may be under stress.
Skin and Hair Disorders – Because stress can cause a chemical response in your body, your skin and hair may show the effects. Acne, rosacea, and eczema are some of the manifestations of anxiety. Alopecia (severe hair loss) and even hair pulling are the catastrophic results of prolonged distress.There is a relatively new field called psychodermatology born precisely out of the need to address the skin and psyche connection.
Weight Gain / Weight Loss – Stress can cause you to gorge or to lose your appetite considerably. If you find yourself in this situation, take the steps, although difficult, to regulate your diet. Also, exercise to encourage your body produce more happy hormones or endorphins.
Pain – You mind is metaphorically in pain when very anxious; so it may follow that the pain may manifest also physically. Some joint pains and back pains are believed to be effects of prolonged mental distress.
Stress will always part of our lives no matter how we try to avoid it. The best way is to learn to recognize our responses and how to seek help when things get too much to handle.