While many people regularly experience stress, exposure to high levels of stress can lead to numerous mental, physical and emotional conditions. Here, psychologist Nancy Sokarno identifies the 5 major signs you’re too stressed.
2020 has undoubtedly been tough on many people, so it’s no surprise if you’ve felt it, too – and felt the stress as a result.
Unfortunately, stress can happen at any moment and if not managed properly, can infiltrate all areas of our life. It has the ability to take control over a person’s wellbeing and prolonged stress can generate long term changes in the brain, leading to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
In fact, stress can actually shrink your brain! This might sound like a crazy claim however, according to research by Yale scientists, chronic stress leads to a loss of synaptic connections between brain cells, which can actually result in decreased brain mass in the prefrontal cortex– the front part of your brain behind your forehead.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
The good news is that we can avoid the negative effects of stress if we learn how to manage and reduce the effects. Effective stress management is a skill that every person can benefit from, however, you firstly need to be able to recognise the signs of stress.
Here are the 5 biggest signs you’re way too stressed.
5 signs you’re way too stressed, according to a psychologist
1. Mood swings and irritability
If you’ve found yourself feeling particularly moody, irritable or just generally out of sorts when it comes to your emotions, you could be suffering from stress.
Perhaps you’ve lost your temper easily lately, snapped back at someone unnecessarily or lost your patience or will cry at the drop of a hat – all these things can point to unmanaged stress.
2. Cognitive symptoms
A common stress symptom will reveal itself through brain processes by affecting someone’s thinking processes, attention span, perception, focus, concentration, memory, sense of reason, and problem solving.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to remember things, finding it hard to concentrate, feeling overwhelmed at a to-do list or making poor decisions, you could be suffering from intense stress.
3. Appetite changes
A common symptom of being too stressed can reveal itself in changes in appetite. Perhaps you’re using food as an emotional way to comfort yourself or conversely, you’ve lost your appetite completely.
4. Weight changes
Similar to appetite changes, someone’s weight can change or fluctuate when they’re feeling incredibly stressed. Many people don’t realise that poorly managed stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels which stimulates your appetite. The end result could mean eating more and putting on weight as a consequence.
On the other end of the spectrum, weight loss is also a sign, with stress often leading to missed meals, poor food choices or completely losing the desire to eat.
5. Physical sickness
Stress can reveal itself in a person physically, such as through headaches, tightened muscles, rigidness and an increased heart rate. Poorly managed stress can also lead to an array of other health problems such as skin conditions or a diminished immune system which makes a person susceptible to illness and infections.
Nancy Sokarno is a psychologist at Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.