How stressed out are you? This is one of the very first questions I ask all my patients, some of them will tell you straight away and others perceive that the stress they are under is “normal” so often the answer would be, "I have stress but it doesn’t affect me", or they don’t have any stress at all – but in fact, their whole picture is related to unhealthy coping strategies they are using to deal with the stress that they are not seeing.
Sometimes the physical signs of stress are noticeable but sometimes they are not. Feeling stressed is something each and every one of us experiences. It is normal to have some stress in our daily activities. It gives us some energy, it gets us motivated and keeps us going. However, we know that high amounts of stress can significantly impact your health. When stress hits the body’s first response is to release our adrenaline hormones – epinephrine and norepinephrine. Follow that the brain will release cortisol – our stress hormone. Behavioral responses will follow such as increased heart rate, blood pressure and release energy to help fight the “danger” at hand redirecting blood flow to the heart, muscles, and brain and away from the digestive system. This process uses up lots of energy, nutrients, and fluids.
Once the stressor has passed the body works to turn off these brain signals to eventually recover, relax and replace lost nutrients to re-establish balance. In our modern-day world, the biggest part that is missing in the stress response is the RECOVERY phase.
We are bombarded with recurring events such as traffic, work stress, negative self-talk, environmental toxins, artificial lighting, relationship issues, finances, and the list goes on. These daily stressors can cause the stress response to be turned on all the time without enough time to recover.
What are the common physical symptoms of chronic stress?
Changes in appetite (ie. increased or decreased)
What does stress look like?
Stress can come in many forms and it doesn’t necessarily have to always be physical symptoms or mental disturbances. Here are some of the signs that you are stressed even though you don’t feel stressed.
Obsessive behaviors (ie. checking things multiple times)
Overworking or overscheduling
Overindulging on food
Dizziness or numbness
Insomnia (ie. issues falling asleep, staying asleep or not waking up refreshed)
Lack of concentration
Inability to lose weight
Fortunately there are many strategies to warn off stress, have a look at my Instagram feed for solutions.