Stress is a regular part of life. Our bodies are even designed to handle it with various reactions like the fight-or-flight response, blood pressure changes, and other tendencies. However, continual stress that builds without relief is not something humans handle well. It causes negative effects on the body and mind. Because stress has become nearly a habitual way of life in some areas of society, we may not recognize that it has become an issue until something brings it directly to our attention. Learn about 6 ways your body, mind, or situation will cue you in on the fact that your stress has reached its boiling point and you’d better take time to deal with it.
1. Got the shakes?
If you find you’ve got a shakiness in your hands and limbs, it may be a sign of two things: straight stress, or an overdependence on stimulants. Overusing stimulants not only stresses the body itself but relying on coffee may be a sign that you have situations in your life that you need to try a new approach towards. Refocus on those things your body and mind need: good sleep, healthy foods, plenty of support from friends.
2. Have you had these other physical signs of stress?
Signs like a sudden rapid heart rate (without exercise involved), change in body temperature, chronic stomachaches, headaches, body pains from muscle tension, and rising blood sugar or blood pressure can all be signs of stress. They may be messages that your body is trying to tell you something. Pay attention before these turn into chronic disease.
3. Did you just say something out loud you never would have under normal circumstances?
Stress affects brain functions like decision making and judgment. It also interferes with memory, moods, and even personality. Go easy on yourself so that you go easy on everyone else around you.
4. Have suicidal thoughts become a regular tenant inside your head?
This goes beyond wanting the earth to open up and swallow you because you’re so embarrassed about something. It’s a serious, deep, sad kind of agony, and there is help for it. Suicide seems like the only option at the moment, but you can pull through. You can reach the other side of this dark time and build a better life. Not only can stress lead to suicidal thoughts but feeling suicidal feeds the stress as well. The situation can turn into a self-feeding loop of misery and hopelessness. Get relief. Reach out to someone for help.
5. Do you rely on binge eating/shopping/media to help you get through the day?
Doing this once in a while isn’t a problem. If it becomes habitual, then stress may have taken over and clouded your thinking. This can lead to eroding behavior that eats away at your self-respect and self-control. It also leads to debt, weight problems, and social isolation, to name a few consequences. So this is another situation started by stress, but which feeds the stress and makes it worse. Honest and kind recognition of your situation will help you avoid it, and will help you escape these behaviors even after they’ve become entrenched.
6. Have you forgotten how to have fun?
When did you last find yourself relaxed, smiling, and just being in the moment? If you’ve succumbed to the symptom of chronic worry and brooding, there are healthier ways to face the problems of life. If your workplace or other environment is naturally stressful, there are ways to ease the effects on your body. From meditation to medication, you can change the way you and your body respond to life’s challenges.
You can destress right now where you sit. Take time each day to check in with yourself. Listen to your health symptoms, gently examine your behavior, and build awareness so you can catch these issues before they become real problems.