Stress is a word that tends to get thrown around these days. We say that things are stressing us out, perhaps without really giving any thought to what stress is, or how it affects us. The truth is that stress is very common, but there are different levels of stress, and we all cope with it in different ways. If you’re feeling stressed out, here are some red flag signs to look out for.
The effects of stress
Do you complain that you feel stressed on a regular basis? Do you often feel like you’re under pressure or are you living in a constant battle against time? Have you got too much work on, or is your personal life troubling you? Stress is tough to define because it can cause varied symptoms and it may be mild, moderate or severe. Most of us can cope with a bout of mild stress from time to time, and some of us even thrive on the pressure. However, if you’re locked in a battle with severe stress, it will soon take its toll on your health.
Changes in appetite and body weight
When you’re stressed, do you find yourself skipping meals or getting to dinner time and realizing you haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast? Or do you tend to overeat when you’re under pressure, and it feels like the world is against you? Stress can affect your appetite, and subsequently, your weight too. Some people eat less as a response while others eat more. If you have noticed that your eating habits have changed and you’ve lost or gained a significant amount of weight, it’s a good idea to seek advice from your doctor.
Hair loss is often associated with aging, especially in men. However, it can also be linked to stress and hormonal changes. Mild stress is unlikely to result in hair loss, but if you’re going through anything that is making you lose sleep or feel anxious, you may find that you’re shedding more hair than usual. If you’ve got an important meeting at work, this is not usually something that’s going to make your lose your hair, but if there’s an issue that’s causing your stress hormone levels to rise, you may notice symptoms, which include hair loss. The good news is that hair that is lost as a result of stressful life events or upheaval will often grow back. This kind of hair loss is not the same as genetic hair loss. In this case, a medication like finasteride is used for men with hair loss. If you are worried about your hair or you’ve noticed that you’re losing your locks, speak to your doctor. There are many other causes of thinning hair, including hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy. Sometimes, there are also periods when hair growth slows, and this is nothing to worry about.
Have you found it difficult to get to sleep of late? Have you been tossing and turning or has your mind been racing? We all have nights when we can’t seem to sleep, but if this is a regular occurrence, it’s wise to seek help. Sleep deprivation can have a damaging impact on your mental and physical health. If you can’t switch off when you go to bed, try and clear your mind and relax during the evening. Run a bath, meditate or do a yoga session. Don’t check work emails or start thinking about the meeting that’s coming up. Just focus on winding down and getting your body and mind ready for sleep. If you’re anxious, try talking to somebody about how you feel. You could confide in a partner or call a friend or family member. It’s often best to try and get things off your chest before you hit the hay. If you find it difficult to express yourself verbally, you could try writing it down or doing something creative that enables you to channel your emotions, such as painting.
Have you noticed that you’ve become more irritable? Have you lost interest in socializing or are you finding it tough to get motivated? Stress can have a significant impact on the way you behave. It can contribute to mood swings, affect the way you make decisions and cause you to isolate yourself from others. You may find that you feel more comfortable on your own and being around others can make you feel anxious and uneasy. If you’re under a lot of pressure, it’s natural to retreat into your shell, but don’t stay there. If the symptoms are persistent or long-term, it’s advisable to see a doctor. Many people who suffer from stress say that they just don’t feel themselves, and it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what’s going on and why you feel the way you do. Talking to somebody can help in this situation. If you don’t want to open up to friends or family, try seeing a therapist. We often find it easier to talk to people we don’t know than those who know us best.
High blood pressure
When you’re stressed, your body responds by releasing hormones, which prepare you for fight or flight. If your hormone levels are raised, this will make your heart beat faster and increase your blood pressure. There are times in life when your blood pressure will spike, and you can feel your heart beating through your chest. If you’re waiting for test results or you’re about to go into an interview, for example, this is a normal response. If you feel like this on a regular basis, this is a sign that you stress levels are too high. High blood pressure can be very dangerous because there are no clear symptoms, and this is a common risk factor for strokes and heart disease.
Stress is something that affects us all at some point in our lives. We can bounce back from a bad day at work or a busy day with the kids with no trouble at all, but it’s not normal to be involved in a war against stress. If stress is affecting your health, your behavior, and your well being, don’t hesitate to seek help.
*This post was contributed. Family friendly post are welcome.