We all know that stress can take its toll on us. However, not all of us are capable of detecting the hidden signs of stress. Usually when we become aware of their presence it is too late because we have been dragging that stress for months or even years.
The modern lifestyle doesn’t exactly help us notice the hidden signs of stress. In an “always active” society that prioritizes production and consumption, permanent stress can become the normal state for its members. We do not realize that our schedules are filling up without leaving a free space for rest and we run from one place to another with more and more hurry to be able to do everything, when in reality what we need is to slow down.
Imbued in this environment, our own speed confuses us. The signs to detect stress are not so obvious, they go unnoticed. We are too busy juggling the life without to pay due attention to the life within. While that happens, the stress continues to grow until it affects our mental balance and our physical health. That is why it is important to learn to recognize the hidden signs of stress.
The main signs to detect stress in everyday life
1. You have become more forgetful. Stress affects memory and attention. So if you’ve become more forgetful lately, it’s likely caused by excess of daily stress and worry. If you are stressed, it will also cost you more to concentrate and you will make more mistakes in your day to day.
2. Everything bothers you. If in recent times you are more irritable, the least noise annoys you or the smallest mistake of the others makes you nervous, it is probably due to stress. Stress leaves you with your nerves on the surface, so you can become hypersensitive.
3. You are permanently tired. Stress consumes mental and physical resources. So one of its first signs is exhaustion and fatigue. Simpler tasks are likely to start using more energy than usual, or you may even wake up exhausted. Even days off don’t help, they often leave you more drained.
4. Your habits are less healthy. If you are choosing less healthy foods lately or skipping training, it may be due to stress. Stress depletes self-control, so you will be more likely to choose the easy way. In fact, you will likely find yourself acting against your own values simply because you don’t have willpower.
5. You react more aggressively. Stress generates a state of hypervigilance. The brain behaves as if it is in danger, so you are likely to react more aggressively and lose control more often.
6. You procrastinate more. One of the hidden signs of stress is procrastination. You may put off tasks that take no more than five minutes or avoid making decisions. That translates into disorganization and inefficiency, so the obligations are likely to start piling up and end up creating more stress.
7. Almost nothing amuses you. Stress permeates everything. Glucocorticoids produced in this state interfere with serotonin levels in the brain and affect your ability to experience pleasure and stay motivated. For this reason, it is likely that you will begin to perceive as an annoyance or obligation those activities that you previously enjoyed, such as playing with your child or going out with friends.
8. You drink more water than usual. The need to drink more water is one of the physical signs of stress. Stress causes the body to continuously pump hormones, which overload the adrenal glands, which are responsible for generating a hormone called aldosterone that helps regulate fluid levels in the body. When adrenal fatigue progresses, aldosterone production drops and triggers that desire to drink.
9. You are sleeping less. Stress causes changes in sleep-wake dynamics. You are likely to sleep less than usual and have an hard time falling asleep. You will notice that it takes longer to fall asleep when you go to bed, even though you are tired, because anxiety and worries do not leave you.
10. You start having nightmares. The content of dreams reflects what you experience during the day. Therefore, a hidden sign of stress are nightmares or weird dreams that leave you exhausted. This is because during sleep the brain tries to process the negative emotions that you experienced during the day, so that if you were stressed, the content of your dreams will reflect it.
11. You are sweating more. When you are stressed, your body generates more adrenaline as the brain thinks you are in danger. This can cause the sweat glands to become overactive, which results in increased sweating.
12. Making decisions has become an impossible mission. When you are stressed, it is not only difficult for you to make the important decisions, but also the smallest ones, such as choosing what to eat or what movie to watch. The problem is that stress consumes your cognitive resources, so that you run out of mental energy to evaluate the options and their consequences, which leads to decisional paralysis.
13. You start to have physical problems. Stress is reflected in the body. Therefore, if you have been stressed for a long time, it is not strange that you begin to suffer from problems such as anxiety dizziness, muscle contractures, gastrointestinal disorders or skin problems. You will also likely notice that you are losing more hair than usual.
14. You get sick more often. Stress affects your immune system, making you more prone to illness. When you are tense, it is more difficult for your body to fight off infectious agents, so it is likely that you will end up infecting yourself, the symptoms will be more intense and the convalescence longer.
15. Your appetite and weight have changed. One of the hidden signs of stress is in the kitchen. When you are stressed your appetite changes. There are people who lose their appetite, but others eat much more as they try to compensate for those negative emotions with food. As a result, you will notice that your body weight varies in a few weeks.