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Hidden Signs of Stress (And What to Do If They Appear)

21 November 2023

Stress is something that all of us need to navigate through at some time or other. However, not all stress affects us the same, and not everyone manifests the same stress-related symptoms either.

Some people aren't even aware of being stressed because they attribute their symptoms to other conditions or circumstances they're dealing with. Read on to learn the hidden sign of stress and what to do about them if they appear in your life.

Why Are Signs of Stress Hidden?

Stress can remain hidden for many reasons, including the person being used to living in stressful conditions. If you consider hectic schedules and feeling overwhelmed in normal parts of life, you won't even notice you're stressed.

Likewise, if you haven't experienced a major stressful event but a couple of small ones, you won't know these add up to a much bigger load.

Sometimes, you won't recognize where stress comes from because its origins aren't specific. Negative thoughts and feelings make you behave in a way that induces stress and anxiety, and you don't even know why.

The tension can also stay hidden if you think that it's only triggered by negative events that affect your mental health. When, in fact, positive events can also trigger anxiety, which is translated to physical symptoms too.

Hidden Symptoms of Stress

Signs of stress vary from one person to another. However, there are several symptoms that can hint at you being under too much strain. Below are the signs sorted by the major categories, followed by tips for managing them.

Emotional Signs

Frequent Changes in Mood - If you're more irritable than usual and notice your temper rising for no apparent reason, this might indicate that you're anxious or restless. Finding the reason behind your anxiety can help alleviate the symptoms and put you in a better disposition.

Communication Issues - Prolonged stress can make you pull away from your friends, family, coworkers, and employers. You have trouble communicating your needs, which can strain your professional and personal relationships.

Finding the source of stress by looking at the situations that make you the most stressed can help you resolve the issues. In addition, you should work on communicating your problems to a trusted person instead of holding them in.

Mental Symptoms

Stress causes a plethora of mental/cognitive symptoms, including, but not limited to, the following:

Problems Making Decisions - Excess stress can cause you to have industries making decisions even regarding basic day-to-day tasks.

Memory Issues - The brain becomes overwhelmed by stress, making it harder for you to recall memories.

Difficulty Sleeping - Racing thoughts about the day's events often leads to a lack of sleep at night.

Difficulty Focusing - Being under a lot of strain can make it harder to concentrate on tasks, which might have a negative impact on your productivity.

Mental issues caused by stress are best addressed through targeted exercises, such as meditation, deep breathing or mindfulness. Deep breathing exercises are one of the best ways to manage stress because they can help you soothe your mind and body relatively quickly.

Breathing deeply lets more oxygen into your body and stimulates the nerve responsible for controlling your vital organ functions.

Meditation relies on a similar principle, except it also incorporates other elements like grounding and positive affirmations. It's also imperative to have good sleep when you're stressed.

While this is easier said than done when you're feeling anxious, the aforementioned breathing, meditation and mindfulness exercises, yoga and eliminating screentime before sleep can help you improve your sleep quality.

Physical Symptoms

Pain - Stress and anxiety put a tremendous strain on your body. This might result in frequent headaches or acute pain flare-ups. Sometimes the pain only registers as muscle tension.

Stomach Issues - When stressed, you might have an increased or decreased appetite, diarrhoea, constipation, heartburn and other digestion-related symptoms.

Hair Loss - Prolonged stress can weaken hair follicles, causing your hair to fall out in patches.

Temporary Ticks - Anxiety triggers the release of adrenaline, which causes facial nerves and muscles to tighten, making them twitch. These involuntary spasms are called ticks.

Hormonal Imbalances - Prolonged stress alter metabolic pathways for numerous hormones and other vital chemicals in the body. Due to this, you might experience hormonal imbalances that lead to issues with the thyroid, adrenal glands and gonads. The latter can cause irregular periods in women and infertility in both genders.

The best way to deal with all these physical symptoms is by implementing healthy lifestyle choices, including regular physical activity and a balanced diet. Regular exercise promotes the release of hormones that boost mood and provide mental and physical energy for the day.

Try incorporating 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, and don't sit more than three hours at a time. If you spend long hours working at a desk, getting a standing desk could be a superb way to get more physical activity into your days.

Eating a nutritious diet is a fantastic way to reduce stress and alleviate its symptoms. For example, consuming plenty of proteins, vitamins, and healthy fats is the best way to combat hair loss, pain and hormonal imbalances.

Likewise, staying hydrated by drinking water and avoiding caffeinated beverages can help you with stomach issues.

Final Thoughts

Prolonged stress can easily lead to anxiety, depression, and physical health issues such as hormonal imbalances and chronic pain.

To prevent this, you should aim to manage your stress levels. The number of methods you can use to reduce strain on your life is vast. However, they will only be effective if you learn to recognize the hidden signs of stress.