Life can be stressful. Some days can be better than others, but all days can be an opportunity to be happy. Learning to recognize signs of stress can help you navigate difficult situations and understand what your body might be telling you.
Stress Can Manifest In Subtle Ways
Sometimes fatigue can feel like a normal part of life. Increased fatigue or sleepiness can also be a sign of stress, especially if it is accompanied by insomnia or other sleep complications. Not only can stress wear your body down while you are awake, stress can make it even harder to sleep. All of us have, at some point, felt fatigued or had trouble sleeping. Some of us may have had those issues due to stress.
The American Psychological Association released a study in 2015 related to a survey taken by over 3,000 adults in the US. 32% of people surveyed reported fatigue as a symptom they associated with stress. Stress can be hard on the body and mind. The fatigue you feel might feel like sleepiness, it can be cognitive or it can feel like your brain does not have the energy to process.
For others, stress can manifest itself as a fawn or people-pleasing response. You don't have the energy to argue or be confrontational. According to Psychology Today, the fawn response can be looking to others to determine your feelings, not being aware of how to feel, loss of identity, appeasing someone to avoid conflict or having a hard time saying "no". The fawn response can also by a sign of trauma or PTSD. Stress is not so simple and rarely exists by itself.
Stress Can Be Physical
When you have stress you may have physical symptoms. Cleveland Clinic notes there are several physical signs of stress.
- Aches and pains.
- Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing.
- Exhaustion or trouble sleeping.
- Headaches, dizziness or shaking.
- High blood pressure.
- Muscle tension or jaw clenching.
- Stomach or digestive problems.
- Weak immune system
If you are facing some difficult situations at home or work, accompanied by these symptoms it might time to discuss it with a physician. There can be long-term physiological issues associated with enduring stress.
Stress Can Hurt You In The Long Run
The Mayo Clinic states it succinctly "chronic stress puts your health at risk". Your body reacts to stress using the fight or flight system built into us for survival. However, if that response cannot shut itself off, you could end up with some health issues.
When we are threatened or under duress, our brain tells our body to release hormones, move muscle groups, move blood to our core and to breathe more rapidly. One of these hormones is called cortisol. Cortisol is produced in your adrenal glands and floods your body with signals to do several things at once.
Too much cortisone for too long can create physical conditions such as heart problems, metabolic problems, memory and cognitive problems, and immune compromise. Cortisone is responsible for a host of positive and natural processes, but if you are consistently making too much cortisone to survive daily stressors it can be a case of too much of a good things.
How To Manage Stress
Dealing with stress can be different for everyone and each of us have to take inventory of our lives and decide what would work best. Sometimes a situation is causing us stress and we have to have the courage to resolve it. Sometimes people in our lives cause us stress. If those people are not positive or, worse, are toxic for you it might be time to reevaluate your relationships with those people.
Getting rest, eating healthy foods and remaining hydrated are the basic ways of helping your body cope with stress. Dealing with stress over time and resolving it can mean taking a hard look at your environment and the people in it. If neither of those are healthy for you, or serve you best, it is time to change those factors.
Exercise can be an important way of mitigating stress as well. Working out can lower those hormones after your body floods with the endorphins we need to get by at the gym or on a run. You can also use more meditative and thoughtful exercises such as yoga to get in touch with your stress and the factors in your life that you need to adapt to or change.