How Can You Tell If You Are Experiencing Chronic Stress?

You can always tell when you’re stressed, right? Not necessarily! Chronic stress can bring about a wide range of symptoms and you won’t always link them to stress. This can mean that you ignore some key signs that stress is building up and carry on with your day-to-day life without taking any steps to address the situation. How can you tell if you’re too stressed? Here are some signs that stress may be getting the best of you.

Uncommon Symptoms of Chronic Stress:

  1. Bleeding gums: Keep finding that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth? It’s not always a sign that you need to up your oral hygiene game. Sometimes, stress can be a factor. High levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can have a negative effect on your immunity and make it easier for bacteria to get into your gums. The end result? More potential for them to bleed after brushing.
  2. Random breakouts: Suddenly finding yourself getting adult acne? Your stress levels could be a culprit. Stress increases inflammation, which can pave the way for bad skin.
  3. Sugar cravings: Can’t kick your sweet tooth in touch? Your hormones may not be to blame. Studies have shown that premenopausal and postmenopausal women continued to have cravings for chocolate and other sweet treats and their drop in cravings was much smaller than you’d expect if hormones were the main culprit. This led researchers to think that stress is a more likely culprit.
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  4. Itchy skin: Itchy skin that isn’t linked to a rash or skin condition can be another sign of stress. A Japanese study found that people experiencing chronic itching were around twice as likely to be stressed too. For a lot of people, stress can be a physical trigger for itching.
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  5. Tummy troubles:  Bellyaches can sometimes be linked to stress. Researchers have found that the brain and the intestines share nerve pathways, which means that stress can trigger digestive problems. One study found that people who were stressed can be over three times more likely to have abdominal pain compared to people who didn’t have a lot of stress in their life. On a similar note, other types of pain can potentially be linked to stress too. Headaches/migraines, back pain and chest pain can all fall into this category.
  6. Painful period cramps:  According to research from Harvard University, women who are stressed are more likely to suffer from super painful menstrual cramps. It’s thought that this is linked to a stress-related imbalance of hormones, which triggers pain.
  7. Memory and other cognitive issues:  Struggling with foggy/fuzzy thinking and memory problems? Chronic stress can often affect your cognitive function and this can make it hard to focus, make decisions and remember things.
  8. Changes in your sleep patterns:  Stress can have some serious effects on how well you sleep (and otherwise!). This can take a few different forms, from struggling to get to sleep in the first place to waking up randomly in the night. You may also find it a super hard challenge to get out of bed in the mornings. If you’ve noticed some changes in your sleep, it can be a sign that stress is having a significant effect on your life – even if you think you’re managing it.
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  9. Feeling tired and drained: Feeling physically and emotionally drained is a super common side effect of stress, especially if it it’s chronic. This can be partly linked to poor sleep, which often goes hand in hand with stress. If there aren’t any physical reasons why you’re so drained, it could well be a sign of mounting stress levels.

By now, you may be starting to recognize signs that your stress levels have crept up to the point that your physical and emotional health are suffering. If this is the case, then being mindful of your body can help.

When stress builds gradually and becomes the norm, it’s not always easy to be aware of how it affects your body. Click To Tweet Mindful activities can get you more in tune with your body and how it’s responding to stress.  

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