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Do you recognize the signs of stress and how it impacts you physically, mentally, or emotionally? If you don't, then you aren't alone. Stress is so common and often a regular part of people’s lives that they don’t always realize when they are suffering from stress.
There are both mental and physical signs of stress that you should be aware of. One of the best ways to deal with stress is having professional help of a therapist to talk through what you are feeling and experiencing in the present. Using techniques like cognitive psychotherapy, a therapist helps you to recognize the signs of stress you are experiencing, but even more important recognize what it is in your life creating the stress. Learn more about this type of therapy at BetterHelp.
Let's take a look at some of the signs of stress:
Physical and Mental Signs of Stress
Your body can tell you a lot based on your ailments, and not just due to having a physical condition. It might also be telling you that you are too stressed out and that needs to be addressed. For example, if you notice that you can’t sleep well, you have more or less of an appetite than you used to, or you have been losing or gaining weight, those are physical signs of stress.
You may also have skin changes like adult acne, intestinal problems, irregular menstrual cycles, or sexual dysfunction. We're going to go into more detail about physical reactions to stress in a bit.
Your emotional state is very closely related to your level of stress, and is often what someone notices first when they are wondering if they have too much stress. You might feel overwhelmed and like you don’t have full control over your life, or you could have extremely low self-esteem and depression.
If you find that you can’t emotionally handle others, you can’t quiet your mind’s racing thoughts, or you keep getting agitated with others, that might also be from a heightened stress level.
You should also pay close attention to your behavior and how it might be changing from day to day. You may find that you are suddenly using substances to cover up the negative emotions or overwhelming mental state, such as smoking cigarettes, drinking more heavily, or experimenting with drugs.
Lashing out at others, becoming angry, or procrastinating a lot could also be signs of stress. You may also be fidgeting or biting your nails, which are often associated with being stressed out.
Cognitive and Mental Symptoms
Cognitive signs are related to your mental state, which are sometimes confused with emotional symptoms, but can also be related to them. For example, if you suddenly have poor judgment and are making bad decisions at work or in your personal life, that might be related to your cognitive function.
You could have racing thoughts, constant worrying and anxiety, or not being able to focus much on tasks. Stress can also cause poor memory and sudden disorganization where it wasn’t a problem previously in your life.
The Physical Impact of Stress
If you haven't been aware of common signs and symptoms of stress, you might not realize how often you experience it on a physical level, instead of just mentally or emotionally. Here are some physical impacts of stress you should be aware of.
Gastrointestinal problems are very common among people that experience issues with stress. For example, you might find that food is hard to digest on days when you have a lot of work or financial stress. You could have constipation when you have high amounts of stress, or the opposite and experience diarrhea.
This is actually very common. You may also have nausea to where you can’t eat or find that you have sharp stomach pains.
Your cardiovascular system consists of your blood vessels and heart, so this is another important part of your body to keep healthy. If you are keeping a stress journal, you might find that you have a rapid heartbeat from acute stress, such as when you have a fight with your significant other or a close friend gets into a vehicle accident.
This is a sign that the stress is causing a cardiovascular response. Cardiovascular problems can also be very dangerous for you, so it is important that you keep your stress under control. If your chest hurts every time you deal with a certain person in your life, it is time to cut communication with them as they are causing a little too much stress for your emotional wellbeing.
Your respiratory system can also be affected by high levels of stress, which can be dangerous if you don’t get it treated. You may find that your throat feels like it is closing up when you are extremely stressed or when something bad happens, you can’t quite catch your breath.
It can also make issues like asthma a lot worse when you have acute or chronic stress. Since these can affect your overall wellbeing, it is important to consult a doctor. The doctor may find that your stress is causing the respiratory issues. This is actually good news because there are natural ways to relieve your stress.
Head and Cognitive Abilities
Don’t forget about head and nervous system changes, such as headaches or migraines, seeing spots in your vision, or having focus or memory problems. These are all related to your cognitive function and can be the result of problems with stress levels.
These are just some of the many signs of stress you may be exhibiting. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, it is worth asking your doctors about. Talking with your primary care doctor and therapist can help you better cope with stress and find effective methods of keeping stress from harming you.
They can help prevent long term damage to your body as well as help you create an action plan on how to minimize stress in your life.