- Dr. Susan
Chronic Stress: The 7 Symptoms You Shouldn't Ignore
Stress. It's a word that gets thrown around a lot, especially in our modern day lives. We worry about work, we worry about family, we worry about bills and the future. You get the picture. This is a blog about recognizing common symptoms caused by chronic stress and how you can work on protecting your physical and mental health.
You could have chronic stress and not even know it. Chronic stress can be hard to identify. It's not like you have a clear illness that's making you feel tired, but you also don't feel like yourself. You know something is wrong, but you don't know what.
Chronic stress is a real thing—and it can cause serious health problems like heart disease and depression. But what exactly is chronic stress? And how do you know if you have it? Here are seven signs that chronic stress may be affecting your life:
Constantly feeling tired without a known cause
Chronic stress can be like a shadow that follows you around. You may not even realize it's there until it's too late, and then it has already stolen your energy and drained you of your joy.
You might be tired, but you're not sure why. You might feel like your energy levels are low or that you're lacking in motivation and enthusiasm.
Chronic stress can sap your energy and make it difficult to focus on the important things in life. It can also leave you feeling exhausted even after a full night of sleep.
It feels like you're always tired, and you don't know why. You can't seem to get anything done, and your brain is foggy all the time. You might even feel like you're losing your mind!
If this sounds familiar, it's because chronic stress has a way of zapping our energy—and that's not just a feeling: it's something our bodies actually do. When we're stressed out, our bodies produce cortisol, which makes us feel fatigued and more prone to illness.
In fact, chronic stress can have such severe effects on your health and well-being that it may be considered a disease by some doctors.
Inability to focus on a task
Having trouble concentrating or remembering things.
Chronic stress can affect your ability to focus on a task in a few different ways.
Chronic stress is a long-term feeling of stress and anxiety, which can be caused by several things. It can be triggered by work or financial problems, family issues, and other life experiences. Chronic stress can also occur when you have a lot of different responsibilities, and you don't have enough time or energy to complete them all.
First, chronic stress affects your ability to concentrate by raising your level of cortisol. This is the hormone that's responsible for helping you stay alert and focused when it's needed. But when it rises too high, it starts making you feel like you're in danger—and that makes it harder to concentrate on anything but the threat at hand.
Second, chronic stress can make it harder for you to remember what you're doing. This is because chronic stress also raises your levels of norepinephrine, which makes you feel like there's a tiger chasing you down every time you try to get something done. It's not just that there's more adrenaline pumping through your system; norepinephrine also affects memory formation in the brain by blocking receptors that are used for learning new things.
So this means that if the stressor is causing you anxiety about something specific (like an upcoming exam), then that anxiety can actually block information from being stored properly in long-term memory—so even if you did study for the exam, chances are good that most of what was covered will be lost forever once you've finished studying.
When you are stressed, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, which means that it's more focused on dealing with the stress than on anything else. So, when you're experiencing chronic stress, for example when you're trying to study for an exam, but there's already a lot going on in your life and it feels like there are too many things demanding your attention, it can be difficult to focus on studying because your body is not used to being in that state of mind.
Solution: - Find someone to talk with about your problems. Sometimes it's easier to get things off your chest when someone else is listening—and in the process, they might be able to offer some helpful advice or resources
- Exercise! This has been shown time and time again as a great way to reduce stress levels and improve your mood
- Get enough sleep! This is something we all know but tend to forget about when we're too busy with work or school projects
- Try meditation! This has been proven over and over again as a great way to reduce stress levels and improve concentration
Irritability and frustration
Feeling restless, agitated and unable to relax.
The answer is simple: stress causes you to feel restless, agitated and unable to relax because it's the body's way of preparing for danger.
When you're stressed, your body releases adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and increases blood flow throughout your body. This allows the body to prepare for action by providing extra energy to muscles and organs that need it most.
But this process only works when there is a real threat present—like an impending exam or job interview—and not just an imagined one (like the idea of having to write an essay). Because our brains are so good at predicting future events based on past experiences, they can sometimes create a threat where none exists, which leads us into this fight-or-flight reaction even when we're not in any real danger at all!
Poor digestion and upset stomach
The brain-body connection is a phenomenon that many people have heard of, but few people understand. It's the idea that our thoughts and emotions have a direct effect on our physical health.
For example, if you're stressed out, your body might react by making you feel nauseous or giving you an upset stomach. This is because when we're stressed out, our brains release chemicals that tell us to stop eating and focus on other things (like running away from danger).
Over the past few decades, researchers have discovered that our brains and our guts are more connected than we thought. In fact, the brain and the gut are just about as connected as the brain and the heart!
This means that when something's going on in your head—like stress—it can actually affect how your body processes food. And if you're not digesting food properly, then you might experience stomach pains or constipation.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to help support a healthy brain-gut connection, like getting enough sleep at night or eating more probiotic foods like yogurt or kimchi.
The brain-gut connection means that what you're thinking and feeling can affect how your digestive tract functions. When you're stressed, your body goes into survival mode, so it's not as interested in digesting food properly or keeping everything running smoothly.
That can lead to symptoms like bloating, gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation… basically any of the symptoms you might experience if your body isn't absorbing nutrients from food properly. It also can make you feel like eating less than usual or losing the urge to eat altogether because your body is focused on other things.
You can also experience frequent headaches, backaches or other physical pains that don't seem to have any obvious cause but only happen when you're stressed out by something going on in your life (like having too much work piled up at once).
Anxiety and depression
Keep in mind that chronic stress will cause the release of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine which can cause anxiety and depression.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps us deal with stress. It's released when we're under pressure, particularly in response to social situations. The more stressful the situation, the more cortisol your body will produce. If you're constantly under pressure—whether it's at work or at home—your body will overproduce cortisol, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
Epinephrine and norepinephrine are hormones that affect your moods. When your brain releases them in response to something stressful happening (like a fight with a friend), it causes the "fight-or-flight" response: You become anxious or depressed while trying to cope with the stressor.
Chronic stress can cause depression because it affects your body's ability to produce hormones that regulate mood. It causes depression because it wears down your body's ability to fight off depression-causing signals. If you're consistently stressed out over a long period of time, your brain will start to release less dopamine and more cortisol—two chemicals when not in balance that are linked to depression.
When you're stressed, the balance of these hormones gets thrown out of whack, and your body can't function properly. This can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness and depression.
Here are a few bio-chemical reasons:
First, chronic stress decreases the levels of serotonin in your brain, which can cause depressive symptoms.
Second, chronic stress increases the production of cortisol, which is a hormone that can cause depression by altering the way your brain functions and affecting your mood.
Third, chronic stress causes changes in how your body functions, which can also lead to depression. These changes include increased blood pressure, decreased immune function (making you more vulnerable to illness), and elevated heart rate.
A racing heartbeat for no reason
When you start to understand the hormonal and neurotransmitters that keep our moods stable you can now understand why other symptoms seemingly pop up.
Your heart races when you're under stress because your body is responding to the stress by releasing adrenaline. This is a natural response that helps us react to scary or dangerous situations.
When you're feeling stressed, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline, which can make your heartbeat faster. This can also cause your breathing rate to increase, which makes it harder to think clearly or even speak at all.
If you're feeling overwhelmed or scared by something that's happening around you, try taking deep breaths and relaxing as much as possible before responding.
I want you to know that your heart rate is a good indicator of how stressed you are. When you're stressed, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure rises, which can be uncomfortable and even panic-inducing.
Changes in your sleep patterns or insomnia
Having trouble sleeping at night because your mind won't stop racing with thoughts about work or other issues in your life.
Stress can also be linked to poor sleep quality. The most common symptom of stress induced insomnia is trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep long enough to feel rested when you wake up in the morning. While healing takes place during sleep interrupted sleep leads to more physical stress when your body can't heal and repair properly.
Stress induced insomnia can cause you to feel tired, irritable, and unable to concentrate. It can also lead to health problems such as heart disease, depression, and obesity.
When you can't sleep at night, it's easy to assume that your problem is just a matter of getting to bed earlier.
But if you're having trouble sleeping because of chronic stress, the solution could be a lot simpler than that.
The key is to take time each day to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness training has been proven to decrease stress levels and improve sleep quality in adults and it doesn't have to be complicated!
You can start by simply focusing on something simple for five minutes every day. For example, notice the sounds around you or the feeling of the ground beneath your feet.
In conclusion, if you have been feeling chronically stressed out lately, it's important to look for warning signs that your stress levels are too high. If left untreated, chronic stress can have lasting negative effects on your body and your overall health. By learning what these signs are, you can take steps to minimize or manage your stress levels before it gets out of hand.