Stress, and especially chronic stress, is a silent killer. Scientists are increasingly finding that chronic stress is linked to a variety of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, and can even accelerate aging. Because of the serious health outcomes that can occur from unmanaged chronic stress, it is important to get it under control sooner rather than later. Here are some of the signs and symptoms you can look for to identify stress in your life, and in the lives of those your loved ones.
Depression- Depression is complex, but it is often a symptom of unresolved, unrelieved stress. Excessive stress can make you feel unaccomplished - there's just too much to do - and that can result in feelings of worthlessness. Also, since stress can affect sleep, your mind and body can become exhausted. Without adequate rest, the brain cannot function optimally.
Difficulty concentrating- "Brain fog" can result from stress. You may find it difficult to stick to a task without your mind wandering. Again, this can be interpreted as your brain trying to get the rest it needs by "escaping."
Insomnia- This is perhaps one of the more torturous stress symptoms. Insomnia is very difficult to deal with and adds to the cycle of stress. If you can't sleep, it can begin a cascade of cyclic symptoms that result from lack of sleep, and then exacerbate the lack of sleep.
Feeling overwhelmed- Stress can make everything seem bigger. When you are stressed, it seems like there is just too much to do and you'll never get it done. Then you may feel inadequate because you didn't accomplish everything that needed to be done during the day.
Withdrawal- Do you find yourself too worn out to go out? If someone asks you to a party or event, do you just think of it as one more thing you'll have to deal with? That may mean you're stressed.
Chronic stress plays a role in causing or exacerbating many health conditions. Here are a few stress-related health issues:
Headaches- Headaches caused by stress are said to be tension-type headaches, or TTH. Medical professionals say that TTHs result from circulatory fluctuations and muscle tension.
Heart irregularities- Stress affects the heart - it's supposed to, so that your chances of survival are increased in a stressful situation. But when the stress is continual, your heart can really get "tired out." Heart disease is being linked to stress. The heart and overall circulatory system may be affected by stress to the point of exacerbating or even causing disease or dysfunction.
Weight gain or loss- Your appetite may fluctuate significantly if you are stressed, resulting in weight gain or loss that you weren't expecting. Depression and insomnia can contribute to weight gain, too, and some experts theorize that fat, especially on the belly, can actually be a sign of stress.
Other Signs of Stress- Digestive disorders can be a sign of stress. These can range from abdominal pain to chronic diarrhea. Hair loss may also result from chronic stress. Experts say that chronic stress exhausts the immune system, leaving you open to infection and sickness. Chronic back, neck and joint pain that is difficult to identify may result from chronic stress.
Just reading about stress can cause stress, right? So what can we do to reduce our stress levels and better deal with all we choose to do? I’ve created a powerful tip sheet “Stress-Busters for Mom and Dad.” Email “Stress Busters” to Janet@finetunedfamilies.com and I’ll send it right out to you. Start busting down your stress today!