(This is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.)
We all have busy days at work or at school, but too frequently today, we allow ourselves to become so preoccupied that it causes us stress and burnout. However, because many people are now overworked, you may not even be aware of when your bodies are telling you to relax. And if you don’t pay attention to your health and well-being, you’ll rapidly fall into burnout.
It’s also important to avoid getting to that point by keeping your stress levels in check — whether you’re talking about the obvious things like sleep and exercise. While these are crucial, there are additional, more silent ways through which your body is attempting to communicate with you that it’s stressed out. Here are the 10 HIDDEN signs you’re stressed out.
1. You’re always tired and can’t sleep.
This is the most prominent yet hidden sign among all. If stress has you feeling exhausted all the time, then there’s no way you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep — which is one of the most important things you need in order to recharge and feel refreshed when you wake up. You don’t realize that your extreme fatigue actually blocks you from falling asleep at night, so you stay awake even longer – creating a never-ending cycle.
2. You’re sick all the time.
If you find yourself constantly coming down with coughs, colds, or other illnesses — whether your stress is caused by an outside source like work or a personal problem like a break-up — it’s likely because your immune system has been weakened by chronic stress and isn’t able to protect you from illness any longer. If you can relate to this, remember to take care of your health and energy so you don’t get stressed out.
3. You can’t remember things as well as you used to.
If you find yourself struggling to recall certain facts or memories, it could be because your short-term memory has taken a nose-dive due to stress. When you’re stressed, your brains don’t function properly — including the part of the brain that manages short-term memory. Your long-term memory will remain intact when you’re under chronic stress, but over time this will affect your reasoning skills and problem-solving if left unaddressed.
4. Your anger and frustration are always out of control.
When you’ve become completely overwhelmed by stress, it’s common for intense feelings of anger or frustration to flood you all at once without warning — like when your boss asks you to do something that you’d been putting off, or when the government makes a decision that affects your life. But if this keeps happening, take a step back and realize what’s going on — you’re not mad at anyone else, but rather at the situation as a whole.
5. You experience discomfort while sitting still for too long.
When your muscles are tight due to stress, they’re not pliable enough to allow comfortable sitting positions for long periods of time. This often forces you into positions that require hunched shoulders or sitting with your legs crossed — neither of which are healthy positions for your body! If this happens frequently, don’t forget to take regular breaks to prevent more burnout.
6. You feel your heart racing all the time.
When people push themselves past their limits, their bodies kick in a mechanism known as the fight-or-flight response. It’s designed to help you out in times of danger, but when it becomes chronic because of stress, it can trigger your heart rate to increase so much that you’ll feel like your heart is racing all the time.
7. Emotional eating and cravings for junk food.
If you know that what you crave is unhealthy or bad for you (like ice cream or cookies), then these habits are a sign that something’s off — and it could be the result of stress. When you’re stressed, you aren’t thinking rationally — which explains why you might go and grab whatever food is available at the moment, regardless of whether it’s healthy or not.
8. Less motivation to do tasks.
If you find yourself putting off things like work responsibilities, chores around your house, or even small errands like picking up groceries — it shows that you’re not motivated and your productivity and effectiveness have dropped. If this lack of motivation becomes chronic, you’ll end up getting burned out because your stress levels won’t go down.
9. Forgetfulness and inability to concentrate.
When you work for too long without taking a break or making time to rest and recharge, your brain becomes overwhelmed — and unable to focus on the task at hand. This often manifests in forgetfulness — like forgetting where you put your keys — but it can also give you trouble staying focused when you try to concentrate on reading or activities that require higher levels of thought (like driving).
10. Frequent headaches.
When you’re under stress, you experience a lot of tension in your body — and the parts most affected by this muscle tightening are your neck and shoulders. The resulting aches can sometimes give you headaches and migraines, which happen because muscles and tendons in your head tighten as well. So if you feel pressure at the base of your skull or exactly between your eyes, it may be another sign you’re stressed out.
Do you relate to any of the signs above? Share this article or comment down below. Chronic stress is a dangerous thing especially when the signs are inconspicuous, and it will continue to wear down your mental, physical and emotional health if left untreated. Make sure you take time out for yourself every day in order to recharge your batteries so you can best manage whatever challenges come up. You’ll feel so much better when you do! Take care!
- Leadem, R. (2018, March 12). 5 Ways You’re Showing Hidden Signs of Stress. Calendar. https://www.calendar.com/blog/5-ways-youre-showing-hidden-signs-of-stress/