27 November 2019

Signs you could be stressed but not realise

There is a great deal of talk about stress in the media these days. A little bit of reading can show that people are feeling more stress than ever before, with study after study showing that workers, teens and just people in general are suffering with the condition. It’s honestly difficult to go more than a few days without hearing something on the topic, which is why most of us probably assume that, if we were stressed, we’d know all about it.

However, for such a destructive condition, stress can be surprisingly silent. It is possible to be stressed and largely ignore it or, as is often the case, to blame its effects on something else. Below are some identifying signs and facts about stress and how the human body and mind handle it - and how you could identify and hopefully manage the issue.

Is stress an illness?

You can’t catch stress from another person, and there is no clinical treatment available from doctors. In fact, there is no symptom profile for it because, strictly speaking, stress is not an illness in and of itself. In truth, we all get stressed sometimes; the bigger concern is chronic stress, which is when we are stressed over a period of time and it directly impacts our physical or mental health. 

How do you know if you are stressed?

This is the tricky part - sometimes, it will be extremely obvious that you’re dealing with stress, but that is usually the case for acute stress. Whether you’re hanging on the telephone waiting to speak to a human being, or racing against time to finish a piece of work, you’ll be familiar with that feeling of rising irritation. Chronic stress can exist at a lower level for a long time, and often you won’t know about it until you fall ill in another way.

Fall ill in another way?

There are any number of physical manifestations of severe chronic stress, with spells of indigestion that require you to reach for the likes of Gaviscon syrup at one end of the scale, and serious issues that can land you in hospital at the other. If you’re not usually prone to gastrointestinal issues, or headaches, and all of a sudden find that you are experiencing them on a more regular basis, this could be due to stress. These issues certainly merit some discussion with a doctor in any case, but your doctor can also offer expert advice on stress and ways to manage it.

Are there any other signs I should look out for?

You should always be on the lookout for signs of stress, particularly if you work in a high-pressure job or are experiencing prolonged upheaval in your personal life. As well as the physical illness symptoms listed above, you may also find that you are lacking in energy, aren’t sleeping as well as you usually do, or are not finding joy in the things you normally like doing. Emotionally and mentally, you may also find that you have a shorter temper than you ordinarily do, and that you struggle with issues of focus and concentration.

What can I do about it?

The first thing that is often advised when you are dealing with long term stress is to look at removing its sources. This, naturally, is a lot easier said than done; if you’re stressed out by your job, it’s not always the case that you can just quit, and if your stress comes from an aspect of your personal life then it can be even more complicated to deal with it. The first thing you should do is look at things that can aggravate stress, and remove those. Caffeine and nicotine, as well as alcohol, can be culprits here.

You may also seek to get regular exercise, which helps to burn off excess energy that can turn into stress if left to fester, or can fuel it. Meditation, and yoga, have also been known to work, and there are several supplements that can make a significant difference too. In the long term, however, addressing the cause of the stress head-on needs to be a priority; whether this means lightening your workload in the office, or having a much-needed conversation at home, it’s essential. You may not relish the idea of a big change, but long-term stress is unsustainable.

If any of the above issues sound familiar to you, it’s worth taking the time out to ask whether you’ve been dealing with chronic stress and not known it. Addressing it now could save you a lot of issues in the future.

Is there anything you do to relieve stress?



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