Warning signs that stress is overwhelming you
Making time for a stress free mind 🤬
The occasional bout of stress is something that almost everyone experiences, and it’s not a huge cause for concern. However, when stress becomes part and parcel of your everyday life, it can endanger both your physical and mental health. In such a situation, you need to take notice of certain warning signs that tell you that you are being overwhelmed by stress. But before we get into what those warning signs are, let’s understand what stress is and what happens to your body when you experience it.
What is stress and what happens when we feel it?
Stress is one of the natural responses of the human body that’s been hard-wired into our brains as we have evolved. We mostly experience it when our brains detect a potential threat that could harm us. When we do, our muscles tighten up owing to the rush of blood that flows in from the heart, which pumps as fast as it can to meet the demand.
In the short-term, our senses become sharper than normal to help us to either fight the threat or ‘fly away’ from it, which is why the stress response is commonly referred to as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.
Why is chronic stress dangerous?
The stress response is natural when there’s a clear and obvious threat, but when it’s triggered by events that have little or no threat to you, it becomes a cause for concern.
During the stress response, the body’s nervous system releases significant amounts of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which are responsible for rousing the body to make its emergency moves.
However, when you experience stress regularly, the greater production of stress hormones can put several aspects of your health at risk. Chronic stress can result in the development of several types of anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental health problems and behavioral changes. The risks of developing physiological conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease are also significantly more for an individual who has chronic stress. Here are some of the warning signs:
Excessive stress can cause headaches and when they become persistent, it’s a sign that your body is being overworked and more importantly, overwhelmed. Stress-related headaches may also cause pain in the neck and shoulders.
Muscles that won’t loosen up
Muscle-tightness is natural when you experience stress, but when a certain group of muscles won’t loosen up, it’s a telltale sign that your body’s still not recovered from the ‘fight-or-flight’ state. Muscles that remain tight and stiff for extended periods may even go on to cause considerable pain.
Sleeping difficulties and fatigue
Chronic stress can make your body stay keyed up for extended periods, making it tough for you to relax and fall asleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, leading to decreased productivity at work and a lack of enthusiasm to spend time and engage in activities at home.
Scientists are yet to understand how chronic stress impacts immunity, but there is enough proof to suggest that it does. People who experience stress regularly are at greater risk of developing infections, which can render them sick and unable to work.
Stress is a natural response to threats and inflammation is a natural response to stress. When you experience too much stress, your bowel may become severely inflamed, leading to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and several other digestive disorders.
Anxiety and depression
The stress response is quite unpleasant and if you experience too much of it, bouts of anxiety and depression may follow. If regular tasks and activities get you stressed out, you may become anxious every time you have to do them. If things you enjoy doing start stressing you out, you may lose the motivation to do them, leading to depression.
So if you spot one or more of these signs, you should consult a doctor to know what steps you can take to manage your stress.