5 Signs of Chronic Stress
Stress can affect different people in different ways. While one person might feel listless and unmotivated, another person might become jittery and feel on-edge all the time. Still, there are several common symptoms that can be a sign that you are experiencing high levels of stress on a regular basis. If you think you might be suffering from chronic, read to learn about some of the most common warning and how they can affect your life.
Persistent Physical Pain
One of the most common signs of chronic stress is persistent pain throughout the body. While this can actually affect any part of the body, many people tend to experience it as headaches and stomach aches.
Depending on your overall health level, you may also feel chest pains or aches in your back and legs. Much of this has to do with constrictions of your blood flow, which can come from high blood pressure as a result of the stress.
Another one of the most frequent signs of chronic stress is changes in your weight. This can either appear as an increase or decrease in weight, depending on the person.
Decrease in weight is typically associated with a loss of appetite as well as an increase in the metabolism as a result of different chemical changes in the body. In terms of the weight gain, it can come from an increased appetitive or from a lack of motivation for physical activity.
Chronic stress can lead you to eat more as a coping mechanism, wherein you eat more food—especially so-called “comfort foods”—as a way to make yourself feel better and as an attempt to alleviate the stress.
If you are having trouble falling asleep on a regular basis, it may be a sign that you are experiencing chronic stress. The feelings of stress can keep you awake by occupying your mind, causing you to think about the causes or possible outcomes of the situation resulting in the stress.
To determine if your inability to fall asleep is the result of chronic stress, think about the thoughts you have before you go to sleep. If they are characterized by worry, fear of the future, or regret over a recent turn of events, and if they are generally the same each night, then it might definitely be a sign of stress.
Inability to Focus
Chronic stress carries many different mental side effects, including a serious impairment to your ability to focus. This is often because the stress you are experiencing in your life literally distracts you from your current obligations, leading your mind to wander onto the subjects about which you are worrying. In addition, the production of stress hormones as a result of chronic stress can lead to a change in brain chemistry that impairs your cerebral cortex. It also encourages more activity in the part of your brain that causes daydreaming. An inability to focus can also result from other issues that are themselves a sign of stress, such as lack of sleep or body pains.
Loss of Interest in Social Activities
When some people feel persistent stress, it causes a decrease in desire to participate in social activities. For some, the type of social activity can indicate the source of the stress. For example, not wanting to go out to dinner with friends can be a sign of stress over money, whereas not wanting to go to events that involve physical activity can be a sign of stress over your fitness level.
In addition, chronic anxiety and worrying as a result of stress can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, which in turn can cause you to shy away from social activities due to negative feelings about your appearance, accomplishments, or your current life status.