How do you know that you are experiencing stress? Do you feel like your heart is racing? Like you can’t concentrate? Does a loved one or friend usually point it out to you by asking you if you are stressed out? Or do you have the urge to run away from whatever is bothering you? These are all signs that you may be stressed out. Sometimes we can tell when we are feeling stressed out and other times we don’t know it.
Luckily for all of us, there are many signs that can help us to know when we are stressed out. Most of us know that headaches or difficulty sleeping can be a sign of stress but did you know that low energy (including not wanting to have sex) or even low self-esteem can be a sign of stress? Below is a list of common symptoms of stress:
Difficulty concentrating and/or forgetfulness
Headaches, tension headaches
Stomach issues such nausea, diarrhea, constipation or loss of appetite
Exhaustion or low energy
Difficulty falling or staying sleeping
Loss of sex drive
Sweating when the temperature indoors or outside is not warm or hot
Avoiding situations or making decisions
Negative thoughts about yourself, low self-esteem
It is a long list and you may not experience all of the signs or symptoms. Take a few seconds to reflect on a recent situation when you experienced any of the symptoms on the list. What were you doing (commuting, paying bills, meeting a deadline for work)? Did you realize at the time that you were stressed out? It’s often helpful to take a couple of seconds throughout the day to reflect on what you are experiencing. For example, taking a couple of seconds during a meeting to notice if you are clinching your jaw can make you aware of your level of stress. Once you have the awareness and knowledge that you are experiencing stress, you can take action to reduce stress. There are many simple activities that you can do that will make you feel better. For example, you can take a few deep breaths, go for a walk, listen to calming music or take a bath.
Life can be stressful but you have the power and ability to deal with stress by paying attention to the signs that you are stressed out and taking action to reduce it.
Christina is a Psychotherapist in private practice. She supports residents in both Kansas and California.