To state the obvious, life is really stressful, and many of us (*raises hand*) fall victim to the pressure to “do it all.” Our stress drives us to excel at work, seek out volunteer activities in order to give back, and maintain an active social life. It’s admirable to have tremendous work ethic, dedicate our free time to helping others, and be a reliable friend—but if we don’t take the occasional breather, we’re destined to get so stressed out that we get to the point where it’s hard to function. And, well, that’s pretty counterproductive.
Stress takes a mental toll on us, but it also impacts our bodies, and you might run into some physical side effects that indicate you’re way too stressed out. These can serve as good reminders to take a step back, give yourself a mental health day (or two), and assess the primary sources of our stress. In some cases, we simply need to cut back on our activities. However, it might be possible to maintain your schedule as long as you prioritize some “me time” and develop coping techniques to make each day and week a little less stressful. Whatever you choose, you first have to know what you’re looking for.
Here are five physical signs that your body is way too stressed out.
1. You’re suffering from insomnia
When feeling stressed out is par for the course, it’s incredibly difficult to “turn off” your brain and drift off to sleep peacefully. You end up tossing and turning because you’re worried about checking off every task on your to-do list or you can’t stop thinking about an upsetting situation that happened that day. This is your body’s reaction to intense stress.
2. You’re always sick
3. You’re fatigued or have very low energy
4. You have persistent muscle pain or tension
Stress affects your adrenaline and hormone levels, which has a direct effect on your muscles and nerves. There are also other factors at play. For example, sometimes when we’re super stressed we slouch more, stop exercising, or sleep poorly. This creates the perfect storm for completely miserable aches and pains.
5. You frequently deal with headaches
Although they’re typically not severe enough to prevent you from going about your daily routine, tension headaches are another way your body may be telling you that you’re too stressed out. Don’t let these headaches go untreated, because piling on daily stress will only lead to chronic tension headaches, which is definitely something you want to avoid.
If any of these symptoms sound painfully familiar, it’s time to take stock of what exactly is stressing you out and how you can deal with it effectively. Long term stress is detrimental to your mental and physical health, so it’s important to take care of yourself. It may be an unavoidable part of life, but there are ways to minimize stress and its side effects.