By Brian Acton
Stress is the body’s way of dealing with situations that require a response - it’s a physiological reaction that can make you more alert, motivated, and ready to deal with an emergency. A little bit of stress is a good thing, as it can help you manage daily problems and accomplish tasks.
But too much prolonged stress can be harmful to your body and mind, and it can manifest itself in many negative ways. Here are seven signs that you’re dealing with too much stress.
- Trouble Sleeping
Too much stress can cause you to have trouble sleeping at night, and in some cases can lead to long-term insomnia. When you’re stressed out, your body and mind may simply be too alert and awake to go to sleep.
Sleep and stress have a circular relationship – if you aren’t getting enough sleep due to stress, this can actually stress you out more, as you’ll have trouble focusing and being productive at work and at home.
Stress alone doesn’t cause acne, but it can trigger breakouts or make existing acne issues worse. A stress related hormone called CRH increases the skin’s oil production, causing pimples. Other symptoms related to stress such as poor sleep and bad eating habits can contribute to skin problems as well.
Whether the source of your stress is your job, your relationships, financial problems, or something else, chronic stress can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. When you’re always feeling drained and tired, it could be a sign that you’re heading for burnout, a state of physical, mental, and emotional fatigue in which your productivity and energy levels plummet.
During times of stress, the hormone cortisol is released into your system and levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters decrease. When working properly, these chemical systems regulate your appetite, energy, sex drive, and mood. When the stress response doesn’t ever shut off, it can lead to depression in susceptible people.
- Headaches and Chronic Pain
Many studies have shown that stress contributes to headaches. Stressful events can trigger specific headaches and people with high stress levels may experience headaches with greater frequency.
The same concept applies to chronic pain - higher levels of the stress hormone are associated with higher levels of recurring pain, such as backaches and neckaches.
- Decreased Immune System
When you’re overly stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off sickness and infections is compromised. The stress hormone corticosteroid suppresses the immune system’s effectiveness. Combine this with a lack of sleep and other factors that may affect your immune system, and you’ll be much less able to avoid illness. As a result, you may get sick more frequently and your illnesses may become more severe.
- Lack of Sex Drive
Stress and anxiety can have a major impact on the sex drives of both men and women, lowering the libido and desire for sex. For some people, stress may even affect sexual performance - and since sex is a stress reliever, the lack of it will eliminate a healthy outlet for stress reduction.
While some stress is necessary to get through your daily life, accomplish tasks, and react to potentially dangerous situations, too much chronic stress is bad for your physical, mental, and emotional heath. Long-term stress can even lead to conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity, and mental health issues.
If you are experiencing too much stress, there are things you can do to naturally improve your situation - such as reducing your workload, getting exercise, and eating healthy. But some chronic stress cases may need medical or psychological treatment from professionals. If you think your stress is too much for you to manage on your own, talk to your doctor to come up with a treatment plan.