Stress Awareness: Signs You're Suffering From Too Much Stress
We all suffer from stress periodically in our lives, and while a little stress can be beneficial, too much stress can be debilitating, and can negatively impact both our mental and physical health.
While most people have become accustomed to being stressed, they may not even realize that they are stressed until it becomes overwhelming. This being said, the key to managing stress is to first recognize the signs that you're experiencing increased levels of stress, before we reach our breaking point.
April is National Stress Awareness Month in the United States, so let's discuss signs of stress and make sure we are listening to our bodies.
What Is Stress?
Stress is a blanket term used to describe physical and/or mental tension caused by an event or circumstance (the stressor).
Not all stress is bad. Acute stress can be a beneficial adrenaline boost, helping your body focus and react quickly in dangerous situations. This is known as a stress response, or "fight or flight" response and is a necessary function of the body.
It's when stress continues for longer periods as chronic stress that it can begin to have a negative effect on not only your body, but quality of life as well. Functioning on high alert for extended periods can wear out your mind and body.
Signs of Stress
Stress can affect us in a multitude of ways, causing us to experience physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, and can even affect our behavior and perception.
Here are a few symptoms to watch for:
If you are experiencing elevated levels of stress, some of the first signs that you may recognize include physiological changes. Some of the physical symptoms that may be caused by stress include:
- Decreased energy.
- Digestive issues. (Upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, constipation.)
- Ache, pains, and tense muscles.
- Increased heart rate and chest pain.
- Weakened immune system.
- Loss of sexual desire or ability.
- Shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet.
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing.
- Jaw clenching. Grinding teeth.
Stress also has the ability to affect our cognitive functions and thought processes. Some of the signs to look out for include:
- Nervousness. (Constant worrying.)
- Racing thoughts.
- Lack of focus.
- Poor judgement.
- Being pessimistic. (Only seeing the negative side of things.)
When we are under higher amounts of stress, we also can experience emotional symptoms including:
- Increased irritability.
- Increased moodiness.
- Sense of loss of control.
- Low self-esteem.
- Avoiding others.
While experiencing increased stress levels, we also tend to experience behavioral changes including:
- Increased/ decreased appetite.
- Increased use of cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.
- Nail biting, fidgeting, or pacing.
So now that we’ve gone over some of the signs and symptoms of stress, how do we alleviate stress once we recognize it?
Exercising is thought to be one of the top ways we can help our bodies combat stress. It helps us naturally lower our body’s stress hormones, releases endorphins that can improve our mood, and can even have a positive impact on our sleep quality. Exercising can also boost confidence, giving you an immediate sense of accomplishment, and can promote a better self image.
Whether it's your favorite scented candle or pure essential oils, some scents can be especially soothing. Scents like lavender, rose, chamomile, sandalwood, and so many more can be used to help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and may even help improve sleep.
Find the perfect pure essential oil blend to help you relieve stress below.
Focus on the Positives
Sometimes when we are stressed, we tend to focus on only the negative aspects that we encounter, or what is currently going wrong, which can be discouraging. By consciously changing our thought processes and focusing on positive things in our lives, such as what we are grateful for, we can regain perspective and balance.
Take some ‘Me’ Time
Finding time for self-care is always important, especially when we are experiencing high levels of stress. By blocking off time for the things that we enjoy, whether its’ a bubble bath, a hobby, spending time with the people we care about, or just finding something to laugh at, we can redevelop a positive sense of well being. While the things that are stressing you out might not go away, we can be better equipped, mentally, to deal with them.
Build a Plan
If there is a lot on your plate that is stressing you out and it seems overwhelming, it may be beneficial to focus on the execution of how we are going to complete all the tasks at hand, in comparison to just what we need to get done. Writing down a to-do list and creating a plan of execution can help you regain a sense of control over your stress factors.
Daily stress factors are an inevitable part of life, but learning to recognize the signs of when it is starting to be too much, is the first defense we have in alleviating our stress.
Once we realize that our stress levels are building, we must do what we can to regain balance, perspective, and positivity to our lives.