While stress is, unfortunately, a part of modern-day life, how do we know when our stress levels are higher than normal? Our bodies would usually give us little signs to let us know what we need to pay attention to. But, would we be able to recognise those signs if we are unaware of what they are?

Here are 8 signs that your stress levels might be higher than normal – indications that you may need to take some additional steps at stress management.

stress levels
  1. Irritability

We are all guilty of this. Sometimes, if we have had a bad night sleep, our fuse might be short and we may snap over seemingly inconsequential things. However, if this irritability becomes a pattern over time, it could be a sign of alleviated levels of stress

If you notice your mood quickly going down the drain, it might be worth it to evaluate common stressors in your life and ask yourself whether or not they’re currently in balance. Is there something new in your life that is contributing to this? Can you cut it out before it becomes more serious?

2. Appetite Changes

When a person is particularly stressed out, their eating habits might go off-kilter. There are usually two extremes – not eating/eating very little versus overeating/binge eating.

For example, some people might turn to food for comfort when troubles arise. Experts have coined the term “emotional eating” which occurs when you turn to food in the face of an emotional problem.

The flip side is those who have a hard time eating when stressed out. This could be down to the digestive system slowing down as a result of stress.

If you notice a drastic change in eating habits, pay attention!

3. Nausea

Stress can make you feel sick to your stomach. Nausea is among the common symptoms of stress involving your gut. Others on this list include stomach cramps and indigestion.

If you notice that your stomach is constantly in knots, for instance, please take a step back and check in with yourself.

4. Diarrhoea and Constipation

Stress can affect your bowels. According to the American Institute of Stress, one reason stress could cause constipation boils down to blood flow. A hormone released during times of heightened stress causes the body to direct blood flow to vital organs (such as heart, brain, lungs) instead of the intestines, which in turn, causes intestinal movements to slow down.

5. Sleeping Difficulties

Being under a lot of stress can definitely make it harder to fall (or stay) asleep at night. After all, if there is a lot on your mind, it would be harder to relax – a precursor to sleep.

So, if you are tossing and turning over a period a time, you might want to evaluate if there are new aspects of your life that are causing you increased stress.

6. Tension Headaches

As the name suggests, this is a headache that is caused by the neck and scalp muscles contracting and becoming tense.

7. Difficulty in concentrating

If you’re having trouble completing a task that usually takes you no time at all, you might want to ask yourself if anything’s bothering you. A common sign of stress is the inability to stay focused.

8. Heart Issues

This may be the most serious sign of stress. Stress can cause a sensation in the chest that leads people to believe they’re going into cardiac arrest.

Research indicates that stress can impact factors that increase your risk of heart disease. Specifically, it can cause high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Don’t let it get to this stage though! Always check in with yourself and notice the signs. Listen to what your body is telling you. This could save you a trip to the hospital, or worse, longer term repercussions to your health.

While stress can have an immense impact on your health, the good news is that there are numerous ways to manage it. This can include meditation, talk therapy, or simple lifestyle changes (like eating nutritious foods, getting enough movement, and going to bed on time every night). 

As always, please seek professional medical advice whenever in doubt.

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