Stress is a normal human reaction to experiencing something difficult, confusing, and sometimes even a little traumatic. It helps us to keep our heads on straight during those moments when we don’t know what to do, and in the days when we were hunter-gatherers, it would have kept us vigilant and awake during those dangerous moments!
But in the modern world, the stress response isn’t all that useful. Rarely are we in need of adrenaline spikes just to commute in the mornings, and the resulting toil can be very hard on our bodies! Of course, stress can still be helpful in small ways, like ensuring we perform to the best of our abilities, but it’s so easy for that feeling to tip over into nerve-wracking territory.
But when does this tip occur? When should you listen to your body when you’re feeling stressed? Here are a few signs that shouldn’t go ignored.
When a Full 8 Hours Does Nothing for You
Getting plenty of sleep is one thing, but is the quality of your sleep good enough? Are you waking up multiple times a night? Are you tossing and turning? Do you even struggle to fall asleep in the first place, and take hours to get there? These are all signs that you’re stressed and the level is reaching its peak.
Cortisol, a hormone released when stressed, can prevent you from getting good sleep every night. This chemical keeps you from feeling relaxed and like you could fall asleep any moment – it’s there to wake you up and keep you awake, like you would need to be when stressed. So when stress builds up over time, more and more cortisol is released, and you lose sleep because of it, and on and on the cycle goes! Simply put, if you can’t sleep, it’s time to do something about what’s getting you feeling so high strung.
When You’ve Got a Headache You Can’t Shift
Stress can cause us to overload, and nowhere is that more true than in our muscles. We can be tense for hours on end when we’re stressed, without even realizing it, and that can leave us with muscle pains, headaches, and even a bad migraine. And when you’re actually experiencing physical sensations because of stress, it’s time to sit back and relax and try to shake some of that weight!
Indeed, a lot of people will turn to self-medicating in an instance like this; it’s easy to just pour yourself a glass of wine to help dull the ache when you get home from work in the evening. However, always indulging to beat back pain can cause a habit to form, and in the worst-case scenario, it can lead to an addiction.
In turn, your stress levels might lead you to need substance use treatment, which just complicates the matter even further. Above all else, if stress is leading you to feel physical pain on a regular basis, it’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible.
When You’ve Completely Lost Your Appetite
Not feeling like you’re up to cooking dinner happens from time to time; it’s been a long day, and you’d rather just veg out with some snacks in front of the TV. No one can fault you for that! But if you’re regularly skipping meals because you’re just not hungry for them, and this is a recent development, it might be worth it to look into your diet.
Are you not eating just because you need to try something new? Or could it be another sign of stress? Losing your appetite is quite a common sign your stress levels are high, and it’s hard to stop what you’re doing and drag your attention towards making some healthy and filling food. But even if you just order in a few times this week, you’ll at least be eating! And that’s always healthier than not eating at all. You might even notice your appetite coming back in short order.
Your body is very good at telling you what it needs. For example, if you’re under a lot of stress, you may find that certain foods make you feel worse. You may also crave foods that you usually avoid. Pay attention to these cues from your body and try to make changes accordingly. For example, try to satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit if you’re craving sugary snacks. And if you’re constantly tired, make sure to get enough sleep and eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Listening to your body can help you recover from stress more quickly and effectively.
When Your Heart Regularly Races
Your heart can race for multiple reasons; you’re watching something adrenaline-inducing, you’re getting involved in exercise, or you’re in a scary situation that you’re not sure how to handle. And all of these reasons don’t tend to be something you need to worry about in the long term – once it’s over and done with, your heartbeat will return to normal.
But if you’re feeling stressed over a long period of time, you might find your heart racing seemingly randomly. You get sweaty and out of breath just being at work, or running an errand around the supermarket, and it can feel like your body is beating in rhythm in various places. And while you can usually pull yourself away to calm down, this can become a serious problem if the stress isn’t dealt with.
When You Find it Hard to Focus
Finding it hard to focus happens from time to time. Maybe you’re bored, maybe your mind is on other things, maybe you’ve been chatting to someone and forgotten what you were supposed to be doing – these are all human things. However, if you walk into work, or you sit down to crunch some numbers and just can’t get on with anything, it’s another way stress can mess with you.
This is usually an obvious problem, and can cause some real panic. Maybe your eyes cross and your mind gets a bit fuzzy? Or you’re taking ages to get something done that usually only takes you 20 minutes? You can even struggle to actually just look at something right in front of you, in the worst-case scenario!
You may need to try a couple of things to help you focus, such as Delta 8 Seltzers, if your stress levels are constantly high and you find that you can’t focus on anything. Meditation, if your mind is constantly racing and you can’t seem to focus on anything. Take a break from work or whatever it is that you’re doing if you find that you’re staring at a screen and not getting anything done. Sometimes, it’s better to return to something later when you’re feeling more relaxed and can focus better.
Stress can be bad for your body in the long term, but when should things really change? It’s always up to you of course, but make sure signs and symptoms like those above don’t go unchallenged for too long. And it’s important to always talk to your doctor about the stress you’re feeling and follow their advice!