The signs your stress is out of control and how to tame it fast
-Mar 10, Hannah Hargrave, Health -
It’s one thing to occasionally feel stressed out and another to let stress rule your life. Here’s how to decipher if your stress levels are out of control and some tips to manage it quick sharp if it is.
A little stress in your life is completely normal, in fact it can actually be good for you. But consistently feeling like you’re teetering on the edge can not only be bad for your mind, but your body, your health and your relationships too.
Whether it’s long hours, a heavy workload, hectic home life or finances which are causing you to stress out, the fact is you need to get it under control and the first step is recognising there’s a problem.
While it might be clear to you and everyone around you that stress is weighing you down, if you find you have one or more of the symptoms below, your stress levels could be dangerously high.
If you can’t seem to shake a bug or you’re repeatedly getting sick, stress could be the reason why. The levels of cortisol – known as the stress hormone – rise in your body when you’re stressed out. The increased hormones can weaken the immune response leaving you less able to fight off infections.
Being stressed can quite literally make your stomach turn. It’s not uncommon for you to get regular bouts of digestive distress such as diarrhea or constipation when you’re stressed. If you already suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or bloating and stomach pains then stress can definitely make this worse.
Sleeplessness and fatigue
Stress can wreak havoc on your sleep, leaving you unable to drift off, or you may find you’re waking at night worrying about what’s going on in your life. A disrupted sleep pattern can severely impact your health and can make you chronically fatigued in the day time too. If you’re finding you rarely get a good night’s sleep and suffer with low energy then it could certainly be down to your stress levels.
You relationships can pay the price when you’re stressed and this includes dwindling passion between you and a partner. If you’re wondering, ‘why have I lost my sex drive?’ then stress could be to blame. Not only do you have less time to focus on loved ones but your libido can take a real nose dive when stress rears its ugly head.
Aches and pains
It’s extremely common to get more aches and pains when you’re stressed. The tension produced can lead to head and body aches, which is why migraines, headaches, back ache and neck pain are so prevalent in severely stressed out people.
Your heart rate picks up when the fight or flight response kicks in, as your heart pumps more blood faster. This ok for that a quick burst when the stress is being caused by something like someone scaring you or a brief stressful situation. But when it’s prolonged you may find your heart rate is constantly elevated and your blood pressure rises too, putting your cardiovascular system under immense strain.
In fact, chest pains and panic attacks can also be a sign you’re severely stressed too.
One minute you’re up, the next you’re down! Stress can cause an emotional rollercoaster and more often than not you’ll find you’re snappy, irritable and angry too, even if you can’t see it yourself.
Loneliness and isolation
Despite the fact that more people than ever are suffering from stress, often it feels like you’re the only one. You may find you’re withdrawing from the people around you and isolating yourself, but in the same breath you hate the feeling of being so alone.
More signs you’re chronically stressed
In addition to the above there are a whole host of other symptoms you may be showing if you’re overly stressed. These include:
- poor memory and difficulty concentrating or getting simple tasks done
- nervous habits such as nail biting and pacing when you’re on the phone
- negativity and a feeling of impending doom, or that everything seems hopeless
- eating more or less than normal
- feeling constantly worried
- hormones seem out of balance – light or heavy periods, plus a Lowe sex drive
What can I do to lower my stress levels?
It may not be possible to eradicate your stress entirely, but if you’re chronically stressed it’s imperative you reduce it and learn to manage your stress too.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee spoke to Lumity and offered his top tips to lowering the levels of stress in your life and coping with stress too.
He suggests these fast, free and effective strategies:
- Establish a morning regime – “Meditation, stretching and affirmations first thing will set you up for a calmer day.”
- Schedule your day – “Focusing your mind will lower your stress levels. So make a list – even if it’s just three things you have to get done – and You’ll feel rewarded and organised that you ticked them off. You can go further and make a regime for the entire day to add more structure to your life. This has been shown to give you more time in the day and you’ll feel more in control.”
- Make ‘me-time’ – “For just 10-minutes of your day try to do nothing. Make that me-time about you, not your phone or emails. Learn some breathing techniques, meditation or do absolutely nothing at all.”
- Phone a friend – “Loneliness is becoming an epidemic and can be as damaging to your body as a 15-a-day cigarette habit. So make sure you always have a day in your diary to physically meet up with someone, or at the least phone them for a chat, rather than catching up on social media.”
Related: 7 tips for reversing loneliness
In addition add exercise to your life to release those feel good, happy endorphins and protect your body and mind. Physical activity is imperative to overall wellbeing, so finding time for exercise is essential.
Meditation and yoga – even if you think it’s not your thing – can have a calming effect on your body to reduce stress.
It’s important to talk to someone I the medical field if your stress levels are out of control, and a healthcare professional can give you additional guidance.