What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘stress?’ And how do you identify symptoms and signs of stress?
An individual biting their nails?
A person frowning and rubbing their temples?
Or a person binge-eating their troubles away?
Stress is a widely misunderstood phenomenon. There are four types of symptoms and signs of stress. While it’s a crucial part of life, many people tend to associate it with negative symptoms. They act as a natural defence against the threats that surround a person, urging them to overcome those dangers. The human body naturally produces 3 stress hormones, namely Cortisol, Adrenaline, and Norepinephrine. Without appropriate levels of stress, we wouldn’t be able to function properly and go about our daily lives.
However, an excess of everything is bad. Pressure at work, complications in personal relationships, trouble at college…anything can result in unhealthy levels of stress. Too much of it can definitely take its toll on the human body. When subjected to it for too long, a person can start suffering from chronic stress with symptoms that can create complications and have long-term damaging effects. In this blog post, I will shed some light on the different physical, mental, behavioural, and emotional symptoms of excessive stress. If you can relate to any of the following, then it’s about time that you made some changes and sought help. Let’s begin!
1. Muscle & joint pain
To overcome a threat, stress prepares the body by causing the muscles to tighten up. Those with chronic stress can experience this tightness throughout the day, causing muscle and joint pain.
2. Nausea & diarrhoea
Have you ever felt your stomach churn before a big event, like a presentation or an important family gathering? Excess stress can actually cause nausea and diarrhoea.
3. Pain in chest
The stress hormones raise our heartbeat. When produced excessively, a person can experience an alarmingly sharp and stabbing pain in their chest, which is often confused with that of a heart attack.
4. Low sex drive
If cortisol is produced in excess for an extended period of time, it can have adverse effects on our sex hormones, which results in lower libido i.e. sex drive.
5. Persistent cold & flu
Another physical sign of too much stress is frequently getting a cold or the flu that doesn’t go away so easily. This is because excessive stress can weaken the immune system – the body’s defence mechanism against viruses and intruders.
1. Loss of concentration
At times, it becomes difficult to concentrate. This is a major sign of stress that can very well disrupt our focus and prevent us from capturing and processing data.
2. Difficulties in making decisions
We make hundreds of decisions on a daily basis. This crucial cognitive process can be disturbed if you are under too much stress. So, if you’ve been having a tough time deciding things, then you might be overly stressed.
3. Being pessimistic
A recent study published in the Journal of Research in Personality established a link between long-term stress and pessimism. Having a generally negative outlook on life is a classic trait of a pessimistic personality.
4. Feeling anxious
Anxiety and fear are two reactions of the body which result from stress. This means that chronic stress can result in persistent anxiety.
5. Constantly feeling worried
While it’s true that appropriate levels of stress are important for day-to-day functioning, constantly feeling worried can take its toll on the human body.
1. Eating too much or too little
A common behavioural symptom of excessive stress is either eating way more than you probably should (also known as binge-eating) or eating nothing at all.
2. Sleeping problems
Stress and insomnia (the inability to fall asleep) are often linked. Excessive stress can cause this disorder. Hence, if you have been suffering from insomnia, alleviating your stress could definitely help you out.
3. Preferring to stay alone
Excessive stress might create the urge to cut yourself off from the world or crave solitude. Chronic stress can affect how a person feels when it comes to socialising.
4. Depending on substance
Stress has been linked to feelings of addiction. Because of that reason, a person suffering from chronic stress can easily get addicted to drugs and alcohol.
5. Slacking off or procrastinating
At times, when under too much pressure or stress, a person could actually start procrastinating, which is extremely counter-productive.
1. Experiencing a wide range of moods daily
A general feeling of moodiness or feeling emotionally unstable is a common symptom of chronic stress. If you have been experiencing this rollercoaster ride of emotions, then chances are that you might be under too much stress.
2. Having a short fuse/temper
Stress has been proven to amplify anger. The constant feeling of tightness, tension, and anxiety can make a person irritable and prone to lashing out at those close to them.
3. Feelings of depression
Symptoms of depression are commonly observed in people suffering from chronic stress.
Stress is one of those things which, at first, seem completely harmless and a part of one’s daily life, but when experienced in excess for an extended period of time, can have some serious consequences. If you relate to any of the above symptoms/signs, then I urge you to seek professional assistance immediately before things get out of hand. Coping with stress isn’t all that difficult – you can start simply by practising certain techniques like meditation and deep breathing. I hope you find the courage to overcome the stresses and woes of your life!