In fact, 77 percent of us regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress (1).
We also know that chronic stress increases the risk of stroke by as much as 50 percent. Plus, it raises the risk of heart disease by 40 percent and even ups the risk of heart attack by 25 percent (2). It further affects your immune system, which makes you susceptible to any number of diseases.
And the worst part is that while you may not even realize you are stressed, your body still feels the repercussions.
10 Signs Of Stress
If you notice any of these symptoms, it may be time to take a holiday, go outside or treat yourself to a nice bath and a good book.
1. Chronic Pain
When under constant stress, your body starts to react by breaking down. We often ignore the first signs of pain, covering them up with medications or just working through them.
Over time, however, the pain continues until you can no longer ignore it. It can manifest as stomach issues, diarrhea, ulcers, tense muscles, or even chronic chest pain and heart palpitations. Eventually, your body will simply begin to ache all over, all of the time.
You can develop symptoms of arthritis, migraine headaches or any number of ailments that you can simply no longer ignore. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is not right (3). You need to pay attention to this warning and follow through by reducing your stress whenever possible.
2. Not Sleeping
We all have a bad night’s sleep once in a while but if this becomes the norm, it can be a sure sign that you’re overstressed. And just as not enough sleep can signal stress, so can too much sleep. While sleeping patterns do change over time, any drastic fluctuation in your sleep is a warning that you need to take seriously (4).
3. Weight Fluctuations
While it is normal for your weight to fluctuate slightly, chronic stress can cause your metabolism to change. Some people will lose their appetite, or develop stomach issues that impede weight gain, while others will gain weight from stress eating or simply because their cortisol levels skyrocket during stressful times (5). The bottom line is that your weight is a good indicator of what is happening around you so pay attention to any significant weight changes.
4. Chronic Worrying
Do you feel like your mind is the hamster on the proverbial wheel—running in circles until exhaustion? When work or other outside influences become the cornerstone of your life, you know it’s time to shut it down.
Chronic worrying can lead to both psychological and physiological problems that will ultimately make you sick (6). Learn to leave everything behind when you walk out the office door. No amount of worrying will change a situation. In fact, constantly worrying will only further cloud your mind and make any situation worse, especially when you eventually have to add health issues to the mix.
5. Being Jittery And Anxious
You’ve probably experienced a little anxiety at some point in your life. You’ve also probably felt like you simply can’t sit still at one time or another, especially before a big presentation or important interview. That’s normal.
But if you find this anxiousness is growing to the point you feel jittery all of the time, or that you need to be constantly on the move, it’s probably safe to say it’s time to pull in the reigns and take some time to chill out. Your mind can be your worst enemy in times of stress. Stress can trigger a whole slew of emotions you may not have even known you had.
If you find you are more emotional and anxious than normal, stress is probably at the cause (7).
6. Zero Patience
When stressed, it can be really hard, if not impossible, to be patient with other people. Even the slightest problem or issue can cause you snap or trigger an onslaught of anger and rage. In extreme cases, pent up stress can even result in violence (8).
While you may be able to apologize your way out of the first incident or even two, when this behavior becomes the norm, it is definitely time to seek out help in the form of relaxation techniques. Better yet, find a good counselor who can help you through the rough patch. Don’t let stress interfere in your relationships with others.
7. Crazy Mood Swings
Women all too often know the effects that hormones can have on your emotions. Well, chronic stress also releases a slew of hormones like adrenaline (fight or flight) and cortisol (fat hormone) (9). Ongoing stress can also trigger other hormones that can have you jumping up and down with excitement one minute and blubbering like a baby the next (10).
The worst thing you can do if you find your mood is roller coasting out of control is to ignore the symptoms and bottle these emotions up. Just like the cork on a champagne bottle, eventually, these emotions will rise to the top and explode out, catching anyone who is close in the crossfire.
This kind of stress can also lead people to drink or do drugs as a way to quell their out of control feelings. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Talk to someone or find a safe way to vent before you spin out of control.
8. Hair loss
While it’s normal to lose up to 100 individual hairs every day, when you are stressed this amount can actually become extremely noticeable and even unmanageable. One specific kind of hair loss, telogen effluvium, is directly caused by physical or emotional stress and it can take months for your hair to grow back once you have your stress under control (11).
Other diseases can also cause hair loss so if you notice a significant amount of hair falling out, you should check with your doctor. If the cause is indeed stress, you will need to find other ways to effectively deal with the issue.
9. Low Libido
This is probably the last symptom people will address when stressed because it can cause extreme embarrassment for some and feelings of insecurity for others.
Regardless, if you are experiencing issues with respect to your libido, it is time to seek out an effective form of stress management. Speak to your partner and let them know you are stressed. Just accepting the situation and recognizing you are under immense pressure can often help alleviate the issue.
Bonus: Weekend Headaches
Ironically, a drop in your stress levels on weekends or days you are away from work can actually trigger migraines, according to researchers at the Washington University Headache Center. If you suddenly go from feeling crazed to feeling relaxed, it can trigger the hallmark symptoms of migraines—flashing lights, nausea, or a stabbing sensation in a particular spot on your temple or behind your eye (13).
The best way to avoid this type of migraine is to make sure you follow the same sleep and eating patterns you do during the work week. Ultimately, you will have to learn how to handle stress better during the week, but until then, you can hold off the weekend headaches by following your normal routine.