Stress happens. For many of us “stressed” is the best adjective to describe our daily lives.
The worries and concerns of work, relationships, finances, and more can weigh heavily on our minds and bodies. So much so, that we don’t even realise how stressed we are. Signs of stress we should recognise just become part of the routine and wear us down — until stress finally sends signals we can’t ignore, sometimes wrecking our physical and mental health significantly.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Take a good look at what’s happening with you. Could you be so accustomed to stress that you can’t tell when you’re stressed anymore?
Consider the following signs of stress and see if any of them sound familiar:
You’ve learned to live without much sleep.
You spend so much time awake that you take the insomnia for granted, and consider it time to get more work done. Or you really want to sleep, and find that you can only get a few hours at a time. Irritability, lack of concentration, and exhaustion result.
You notice you’re saying “I forgot” a lot more.
Research indicates that as stress levels rise, so do mental lapses, and problems storing and recalling information in our brains. Memories suffer and bouts of persistent forgetfulness can be worrisome and irritating.
Your scalp is showing.
Stress can be cruel to your hair. A particularly stressful period can cause extreme shedding. Usually the condition is temporary, with hair returning to normal in six to eight months, but it adds to your concerns and creates some self-consciousness as well.
Your teeth hurt.
Stressed out people often grind their teeth unconsciously or in their sleep. If you find that toothaches and an aching jaw are now added to your list of concerns, stress may be the culprit.
You have the skin of a 16 year-old.
Pimples, blotches, dry patches, and psoriasis are signs your body is more stressed than you think. Stress can cause skin dehydration, leading to a host of skin issues, and exacerbating those that already exist. Sensitivity to allergens, bacteria, and pollutants is fairly common.
You “need” a drink or smoke too often.
Substances like alcohol, drugs, and nicotine seem to be the quickest way to find relief from daily worries and pressures. For those in recovery, or struggling to recover, increased amounts of stress can trigger relapse. Even those with a long period of sobriety may be tempted due to extreme stress.
Intimacy is off the table.
Stress keeps you up at night, but you’re not doing anything fun! That’s because stress not only steals your rest, it also robs you of the ability to have sex, or even want sex. Erectile dysfunction, in men, and loss of sexual desire, in both men and women, often occurs due to stress overload.
Gathering your thoughts isn’t so easy.
Being under constant pressure gets in the way of how well you brain is working. Focus and attention may be heightened during short bursts of stress, but when stress becomes chronic, cognitive skills suffer. Studies show that if stress can be alleviated, cognitive skills bounce back in a month’s time.
You’re stressed and immunosuppressed.
Many stressed people are also sick people. Your body know what’s normal and what isn’t. The constant flow of stress hormones in your system just makes trouble for all your bodily functions. Stressed people often have a hard time fighting off disease, infection, and chronic pain disorders.
You don’t have to live like this. It’s okay to give yourself a break. You need it. Your body and mind are telling you so. Take steps soon to reduce stress and live life well.
If you would like help with managing your stress, call Neil Ward Counselling on 07970 860 711 to arrange an appointment.
Counselling sessions are available face-to-face Glasgow City Centre, by phone and also by Skype video.