Stress is an unavoidable and normal part of life. In some instances, it can even spur us into action and ensure that we get essential tasks done. However, if you’re living in a constant state of anxiety, you could be doing serious damage to your health.
Here’s how you can you tell if your stress levels have become unmanageable and potentially detrimental to your health, and what you should do about it.
7 signs your stress could be damaging your health
1. You experience physical symptoms
These include severe headaches or migraines, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, chest pains or discomfort, and/or neck, shoulder and back aches. A sore jaw can be a sign that you’re grinding your teeth at night: another surefire indication of raging stress levels.
2. Your period cramps are worse than ever
A Harvard study found that women who are significantly stressed out are more than twice as likely to experience painful menstruation than those who aren’t. Heightened stress levels can also cause your periods to become irregular or to stop altogether.
3. You binge eat
Stress can trigger the desire to eat more than usual – in particular, foods that are high in sugar and fat. If your stress seems to melt away, even temporarily, as you’re wolfing down doughnuts and burgers, your binges could well be stress-related.
4. Your memory has taken a knock
Stress can induce a range of cognitive symptoms, including memory loss, lower concentration levels, anxiety, inability to make decisions and persistent negative feelings.
5. You can’t get a handle on your emotions
Feel like you’re PMSing 24/7? Mood swings, irritability, depression and/or being in a constant state of agitation may mean that your stress levels are through the roof.
6. Itching and scratching
Stress can exacerbate symptoms of skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. Are you constantly scratching, or have you noticed symptoms like dandruff or fungal infections? You may also be experiencing worsening allergies. These could all be signs that stress has taken hold of your body.
7. You get sick often
Are you constantly plagued by flu, gastrointestinal issues or other health woes that leave you feeling weak and run down? Stress wreaks havoc on your immune system and can leave you more susceptible than usual to illness.
Where to seek help
If you’re worried that your stress symptoms are out of control, visit your doctor as soon as you can. There are many ways you can begin to get it under control, and it’s important that you do. The long-term effects of severe stress have been shown to contribute to many physical, psychological and emotional conditions. Your doctor will be able to guide you towards the best methods for managing your stress more efficiently and overcoming its damaging effects.