Stress Signals – 9 Ways Your Body Tells You It’s Stressed

Stress signals are sent through the body via neurotransmitters. When serotonin levels drop, the body jumps into fight or flight mode. This means adrenalin is released to prepare the body for danger. There are few ways your body tells you it's stressed.

You may experience stress physically, psychologically, or emotionally. Your body acts as a barometer for stress levels. People who experience elevated stress are at risk of developing hypertension and other serious health problems.

Psychological symptoms may include fatigue, difficulty focusing or concentrating, irritability, insomnia, anxiety or depression.

Emotional symptoms are feelings of being overwhelmed, helplessness, guilt, worry or fear. Symptoms of stress are also an individual experience. In this article, we will discuss stress signals to look out for.

9 Stress Signals You Might Experience

1. Bleeding gums

You can always tell when you're stressed, right? Not necessarily! Chronic stress can bring about a wide range of symptoms, and you won't always link them to stress.

This can mean that you ignore some key signs that stress is building up and carry on your day-to-day life without taking any steps to address the situation.

How can you tell if you're too stressed? Here are some signs that stress may be getting the better of you and what you can do to change things up. 

 Keep finding that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth? It's not always a sign that you need to up your oral hygiene game. 

Sometimes, stress can be a factor. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can hurt your immunity and make it easier for bacteria to get into your gums.

The result? More potential for them to bleed after brushing. 

2. Random breakouts

 Suddenly finding yourself getting adult acne? Your stress levels could be a culprit. Stress increases inflammation, which can pave the way for blemished skin. 

3. Sugar cravings

Stress causes sugar cravings because stress hormones, like cortisol, stimulate the liver to release sugar into the bloodstream for energy.

Cortisol also stimulates fat cells to produce and release more of a hormone called "alpha-MSH". Alpha-MSH signals our brain that we have enough calories in our bloodstream - so we should stop eating.

However, when stress levels are elevated, and we get a powerful surge of cortisol, our brain doesn't receive this alpha-MSH signal. This is why even people who rarely eat between meals often "crave" something sweet or starchy when they're under stress.

4. Itchy skin

Itchy skin that isn't linked to a rash or skin condition can be another sign of stress.

A Japanese study found that people experiencing chronic itching were around twice as likely to be stressed too.

For a lot of people, stress can be a physical trigger for itching. 

5. Tummy troubles 

Bellyaches can sometimes be linked to stress. Researchers have found that the brain and the intestines share nerve pathways, which means that stress can trigger digestive problems.

One study found that stressed people could be over three times more likely to have abdominal pain than people who didn't have a lot of stress in their lives. 

On a similar note, other types of pain can potentially be linked to stress too. Headaches/migraines, back pain and chest pain, can all fall into this category. 

6. Painful period cramps

According to research from Harvard University, stressed women are more likely to suffer from super painful menstrual cramps.

It's thought that this is linked to a stress-related imbalance of hormones, which triggers pain.

7. Memory and other cognitive issues

Struggling with foggy/fuzzy thinking and memory problems? Chronic stress can often affect your cognitive function, making it hard to focus, make decisions and remember things. 

8. Changes in your sleep patterns

Stress can have some serious effects on how well you sleep (and otherwise!).

This can take a few different forms, from struggling to get to sleep in the first place to waking up randomly in the night.

You may also find it a super hard challenge to get out of bed in the mornings. If you've noticed some changes in your sleep, it can be a sign that stress is having a significant effect on your life - even if you think you're managing it. 

9. Feeling tired and drained.

Feeling physically and emotionally drained is a super common side effect of stress, especially chronic stress.

This can be partly linked to poor sleep, which often goes hand in hand with stress. If there aren't any physical reasons why you're so drained, it could well be a sign of mounting stress levels. 

More Resources

5-Day Habit Switch for Stress Relief

5 Ways You Can Prioritise Your Time To Reduce Stress

10 Ways to Stay Calm Under Pressure

Are your stress levels getting out of control?

By now, you might have recognized that your stress levels have pilled up to the point where your physical and emotional health are suffering. 

Being mindful of your body can help. 

When stress builds gradually and becomes the norm, it's not always easy to be aware of how it affects your body.

Mindful activities can get you more in tune with your body and how it's responding to stress.

Mindfulness is the obvious choice of activity here, but you can also try meditation, yoga and mindful journaling. 

When you start doing these activities regularly and check in with your body frequently, you can recognize how stressed you are.

You might begin to notice that you're more affected by the type of things that we talked about earlier than you realized, for example.

Exercise can be super effective for managing stress levels. It can bring cortisol in balance and reduce tension in your body. 

stress signals

Final thought on Stress Signals

If you're feeling constantly overwhelmed, it's a sign that your stress levels are too high. It can be hard to think about anything else when you feel like this.

You might not always know how to make yourself feel better or manage stress in a healthy way.

But there are some things you can do - from talking to someone to taking up a stress management activity like mindfulness or exercise to just making sure you take some time out and give yourself a break.

Once you give your body and mind what they need to recover from their constant state of alarm, you'll feel so much better in yourself.

And hopefully, with the right support and guidance, you can begin to manage the stress and prevent it from taking over your life. I hope you enjoyed this blog post. feel free to comment below on what you think, or any suggestions on new blog topics.

More Resources 




About the author 


Funmi is a Certified Functional Health Coach. She is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs transform from Stress and burnout so they can begin to thrive in their body and, by extension, their businesses.

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