5 Signs That Life Is Stressing You Out
Most of us know what it feels like to be stressed out. We feel keyed up, anxious, and maybe a little bit
overwhelmed. For some people, stress is a constant presence in their lives, and they may not even realize it.
Because our stress response involves and affects our body, mind, emotions, and behavior, it's no surprise that chronic stress can have serious consequences for all aspects of our health. However, what may be less known are the many varied - and sometimes subtle - ways stress can manifest and take a toll on us. Not to mention, our bodies become more proficient at adapting to stress, releasing stress hormones like cortisol to help us rise to the challenge. But this only lasts so long before our stress comes out on top, and we start to experience some of the following effects:
One common way chronic stress manifests is through digestive problems. Our sympathetic nervous system activates the 'fight or flight' response when stressed. This response releases adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause our heart rate to spike and muscles to tense.
This activation of the sympathetic nervous system can also interrupt the parasympathetic nervous system,
which is responsible for functions like digesting food and eliminating waste. As a result, we may experience
digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, or upset stomach when stressed.
Another sign that stress is taking a toll can be feeling mentally scattered, unable to focus or concentrate, and generally feeling like our thoughts are all over the place. When stressed, our brain goes into survival mode and narrows its focus to what's most immediately threatening - which means other tasks that don't seem as pressing can fall by the wayside. Nevertheless, when stress pulls us in many directions, and everything seems like a crisis, it's hard to focus on one thing at a time.
This can lead to feeling like we're forgetful, more clumsy than usual, and generally not operating at our best
mentally. When persistent stress overwhelms us, we may feel incapable of rising to life's challenges.
Feeling disconnected and socially withdrawn
Stress can also lead to feeling socially withdrawn and disconnected from others. When under chronic stress, our nervous systems selectively shut down unessential functions to conserve our resources when overloaded. It's common to feel like we're in survival mode, and the only thing that matters is meeting our immediate needs. We may find ourselves irritable and short-tempered with those around us. As a result, we may withdraw from social activities and pull back from close relationships. We may also start to avoid anything that feels overwhelming or stressful, which can further isolate us.
Muscle tension and headaches
One of the most common physical signs that stress is taking a toll is feeling like we're constantly tense,
especially in our shoulders and neck. When stressed, our muscles tense up in preparation for the 'fight or flight' response. This tension can lead to headaches and pain in other areas of the body. If you find yourself constantly rubbing your temples, neck, or shoulders, it may be a sign that stress is affecting you physically.
Feeling discouraged, hopeless, and indifferent
When we're under chronic stress, it's common to feel stuck in a never-ending cycle of feeling overwhelmed and stressed. This can lead to feeling discouraged, hopeless, and indifferent.
We may start to lose motivation and interest in things that used to bring us joy. We may also find it harder to muster the energy to take care of ourselves, causing us to feel run-down and exhausted.
Chronic stress can seriously impact our health, leading to anxiety, depression, burnout, and physical illness. If you're experiencing any of these signs, it may be time to take some steps to reduce the stress in your life. Many resources are available to help us manage stress, so reach out to our team for help if you need it.