11 physical signs and warning signals of stress to keep an eye on

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Long-term stress has a negative impact on health and can eventually lead to conditions and illnesses that require treatment. Therefore, it's important to detect physical signs of stress early and address them before it has gone too far. Here, we list eleven common physical signs of stress to be aware of.

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Short-term and long-term stress

Short-term stress and long-term stress are two different forms of stress that people can experience in their lives. Short-term stress, also known as acute stress, is a natural and normal response to an immediate danger or a challenging situation. It is usually brief and can even be beneficial in certain situations as it helps us react quickly and effectively to threats. Once the acute stress passes, the body returns to its normal state.

Long-term stress, on the other hand, is when the stress response becomes constant or recurrent over an extended period. This can be due to ongoing pressures such as work-related stress, financial worries, relationship problems, or other long-term stress factors. Long-term stress can be detrimental to both physical and mental health and can lead to a range of health problems if not managed effectively.

Recognizing the difference between short-term and long-term stress is important in order to manage stress appropriately and avoid its negative consequences on health.

Physical signs and warning signs of stress

As mentioned, stress is a natural part of life, but when it reaches harmful levels, it can negatively affect our physical and mental health. It's important to be aware of early signs of harmful physical stress so that you can take action in time and manage it. Here are eleven physical signs and warning signs of stress to be attentive to:

  1. Emotional reactions: You experience strong emotional reactions, become easily irritated, cry easily, and feel down and anxious. Negative thoughts may dominate.
  2. Impaired memory and concentration: Your memory worsens, and you have difficulty concentrating. You also become more sensitive to sensory stimuli such as noise and light.
  3. Reduced recovery ability: You often feel fatigued and have a physical tiredness that cannot be rested away. Recovery takes longer than usual.
  4. Sleep disturbances: You have trouble falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty falling back asleep. You generally feel tired.
  5. Difficulty managing demands and time pressure: It becomes increasingly challenging to manage demands, and you feel that there's not enough time for family, friends, or work.
  6. Digestive problems: Stress can affect digestion and cause discomfort such as nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
  7. Body aches: Difficulty relaxing leads to aches in various parts of the body, such as the neck, shoulders, and back. You may also experience tension headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, and dizziness.
  8. Skin problems: Stress can trigger or worsen skin issues like acne, eczema, or psoriasis.
  9. Impact on the heart and immune system: Stress can negatively affect the immune system, make you more susceptible to infections, raise blood sugar and heart rate, and lead to palpitations.
  10. Altered social life: You start to forgo rest, leisure activities, interests, entertainment, and spending time with family and friends. Interest in sex may decrease.
  11. Unhealthy eating habits and increased alcohol intake: Some people cope with stress by indulging in alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or fatty and sugary foods. This behavior can be a destructive consequence of stress and can lead to a greater impact on physical and mental health. It's important to be aware of and manage negative coping strategies to promote healthier stress management.

Recognizing these early signs of harmful physical stress is the first step in taking care of your health and well-being. It's important to seek support and use stress management strategies to both cope with stress and prevent it from reaching a harmful level.

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