Here Are 12 Signs That You Are Stressed Out:
1. You have a hard time concentrating. When you are stressed out, your mind is trying to concentrate on a wide variety of things, not keeping full attention on any one of them. This makes it hard to concentrate on just one thing so you end up feeling distracted and confused. Stress can affect your concentration at work so your productivity is slower and your ability to do a good job is less. Stress can make it difficult to concentrate on playtime activities, too. You end up thinking about all the obligations you have, spending less time on enjoying the free time you do have.
2. Your sleep is disrupted. When you are stressed out, you can feel emotionally exhausted but physically unable to sleep. Stress causes increases in epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol, making it difficult to go to sleep and stay asleep. Your mind cannot rest enough to sleep and your body is fighting sleep as well. Insomnia is a common result of stress. The trick is to develop good sleep habits and reduce the overall stress in your life so that sleep comes naturally. Stress can also cause too much sleeping, because you are trying to avoid the stressors in your life and will use sleep as a coping mechanism.
3. You don’t eat right. When you are under stress, you tend not to make time to make meals that are healthy for you. Instead, you eat whatever is in front of you or is easy to pick up and snack on. These tend to be foods high in salt and sugar and are generally highly processed foods that don’t provide you with the nutrition you need to fight off illnesses and keep your biological processes going well. Stress can contribute to mindless overeating of junk food or to skipping meals altogether because you have no time to sit down and eat the right kinds of food for your body.
4. You get sicker easier and more often. Stress increases the amount of cortisol in your body, which affects your ability to fight off infection. This means that you are likely to get more colds and flu, and can’t fight them off as easily. Stress is a reason for chronic diseases as well, including stroke, heart attacks, and peripheral vascular disease. Norepinephrine and epinephrine released as part of the fight or flight response can put excess pressure on your heart, and can raise your pulse and blood pressure. These things contribute to getting heart disease after years of being under chronic stress.
5. You are depressed. Stress can lead to depression by affecting the neurotransmitter levels in your brain. Chronic stress can affect the way you think and you will have less free time to enjoy your life. When you are stressed, things like chronic anxiety and chronic depression creep into your life so that you are even less able to cope with the stressors of your life.
6. You get headaches. Stress can cause tension in the muscles of the scalp and neck. This can result in tension or “muscle-contraction” headaches that make it difficult to get rest and that can contribute to concentration and memory difficulties. Headaches like this can be controlled with NSAID therapy but are better handled by reducing stress and by participating in natural stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, and Tai chi.
7. You can have an abnormal reproductive system. Men can get a temporary increase in libido under minor stress but can lose this and develop problems with erectile dysfunction after undergoing chronic stress. Women can develop abnormal menstrual cycles in which they don’t ovulate. This not only makes for irregular and close-together cycles but it can affect fertility. If you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant. In addition, women can get heavier and more painful menstrual bleeding as a result of being under stress.
8. You can develop muscle tension. Stress causes your muscles to become tenser. This is a normal part of the fight or flight response, but over time it can lead to chronic muscle tension that makes you have aches and pains that you can’t get over without taking medication for pain. If you reduce stress through progressive muscle relaxation techniques, you can feel less achy and will feel more like moving around without pain.
9. You put yourself at risk for type 2 diabetes. Your digestive system responds to stress by producing extra sugar from storage sites in the liver. This causes a rush of sugar to enter the bloodstream. Your pancreas fights to put this sugar somewhere and, if it doesn’t go to fat, it ends up keeping your blood sugar up. There is a scientific connection between stress and the development of insulin resistance, which is the basis behind getting type 2 diabetes.
10. You have digestive problems. Stress shunts blood away from the vital organs, such as the digestive system so that you can’t digest food as well as you normally would. This leads to poor digestion, stomach upset, diarrhea, and possibly vomiting. Stress is related to irritable bowel syndrome, which involves cramping of the bowels and changes in bowel habits. Irritable bowel patients do better when they are under less stress.
11. You suffer from respiratory problems. People who have COPD or asthma have more problems breathing when they are under stress. Stress causes shallow, rapid breathing that is not that much of a problem if you don’t have any respiratory diseases but, if you do, it can lead to shortness of breath and worsened breathing symptoms.
12. You suffer from anxiety. Stress is a state of anxiety that doesn’t go away. People who live under chronic stress are more prone to anxious states, panic attacks, and other anxiety symptoms that can interfere with quality of life. Chronic anxiety is best handled by reducing the stress in your life and by practicing natural methods of stress reduction such as meditation, yoga, Tai chi, and qi gong.