Spotting Signs of Stress

These days, stress is a little like having another personal device. It seems normal to be always carrying it around with us in our pockets just like we would our Iphones. Society has somehow taught us that the busier we are and more stressed we feel, the more successful we are in our careers and social lives. We often wear exhaustion as a badge of honour to demonstrate our ‘worthiness’ to others. That’s just not true and stress can have severe and lasting effects on our health that we should try to prevent.

The thing is it’s hard to know where to begin on managing your stress levels, especially when we’re bombarded with a plethora of information from the internet and social media with top tips and amazing brain hacks. If managing your stress is something you’re committed to then, to start off, it’s worth identifying how stress manifests in YOU first. Spotting signs of stress can help you distinguish between what’s actually you and what’s become normal from years of stress.

Stress manifests itself in physical symptoms, the way you behave and the way you feel. Below are some signs of stress that you may suffering from without realising. Identifying these in yourself is the first step to successfully managing your stress and you’d be surprised at how many of them you might just think are normal.

How stress can make you feel:

  • Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up
  • Over-burdened or overwhelmed
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid
  • Like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off
  • Unable to enjoy yourself
  • Depressed
  • Uninterested in life
  • Like you’ve lost your sense of humour
  • A sense of dread
  • Worried or tense
  • Neglected or lonely
  • Existing mental health problems getting worse

Physical signs of stress:

  • Diffculty breathing
  • Panic attacks
  • Blurred eyesight or sore eyes
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches and headaches
  • Chest pains and high blood pressure
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick, dizzy or fainting
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Developing rashes or itchy skin
  • Sweating
  • Changes to your period or menstrual cycle
  • Existing physical health problems getting worse

How stress can make you behave:

  • Find it hard to make decisions
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Unable to remember things, or make your memory feel slower than usual
  • Constantly worry or have feelings of dread
  • Snap at people
  • Bite your nails
  • Pick at or itch your skin
  • Grind your teeth or clench your jaw
  • Experience sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex
  • Eat too much or too little
  • Smoke, use recreational drugs or drink alcohol more than you usually would
  • Restless, like you can’t sit still
  • Cry or feel tearful
  • Spend or shop too much
  • Not exercise as much as you usually would, or exercise too much
  • Withdraw from people around you

Write down some of the things that resonate with you from these lists, you can refer back to them to see your progress or just to remind yourself. Once you’ve identified the signs, maybe it can help you understand any patterns – is there a particular trigger in the day for you?

Keep following for some helpful information on managing stress and how this can help you at work.