Hidden signs of stress: When to seriously consider seeking support

More than a quarter of adults in the US have said they’re so stressed that they find it hard to get through their daily tasks. That’s a lot of people struggling! 

Stress is a normal part of modern life. Sometimes, it can sneak up on you without you even noticing. It has a way of hiding, making it hard to tell when it’s becoming too much to handle.

Don’t worry, though! This article is all about understanding those hidden signs of stress that aren’t always easy to spot. Let’s find out what they are.

The less obvious physical signs of stress

Let’s talk about some of these less obvious physical signs.

  • Headaches, Muscle Tension, Fatigue – Have you ever noticed a dull headache coming on during busy times? Or maybe your shoulders feel tight? Stress can cause headaches, make your muscles tense up, and leave you feeling tired.
  • Digestive Issues – Stress can mess with your stomach and digestion. Some people might find they’re not as hungry as usual, or they might eat more. Others might experience constipation or diarrhea. 
  • Jaw Pain or Teeth Grinding – This one might surprise you, but stress can make you clench your jaw or grind your teeth, especially while you’re asleep. You might wake up with a sore jaw or even headaches from this.

The emotional symptoms of stress

When stress creeps into your life, it often brings emotional symptoms that can be hard to recognize at first. Let’s take a closer look at some of these signs.

  • Irritability and Mood Swings – Have you noticed that small things that usually wouldn’t bother you suddenly make you feel really annoyed? This is a common sign of stress. When you’re stressed, your patience wears thin, and you snap at people over minor issues. 

This increase in irritability and sudden mood changes can strain relationships with friends and family. So, if you see these changes affecting your personal life, it’s important to take immediate action. Whether you’re in New York City or elsewhere, you can easily find reputable therapists online.

By searching online for the best therapists in new york city, you can find experts. They can provide strategies needed to manage these feelings effectively. These strategies go beyond mere coping mechanisms. They equip you with practical tools that can be applied both within and outside of therapy sessions.

  • Feeling Overwhelmed or Out of Control – Sometimes, stress makes you feel like you’re drowning in your responsibilities. Tasks that you used to handle easily now seem overwhelming. Thus leading to a feeling of losing control. This sensation can make daily life incredibly challenging. 
  • Apathy or Loss of Interest – Another tell-tale sign of stress is when you start losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy. Maybe you love to read, take long walks, or play an instrument. But now, you just can’t seem to find the energy or desire to engage in these activities. This shift, often referred to as apathy, signifies that stress is taking a toll on your emotional well-being. 

The behavioral symptoms of stress

Stress doesn’t just affect how you feel on the inside – it can also change how you act. Some of these changes might not seem related to stress at first, but they can be necessary signals that something’s up.

  • Changes in Eating Habits – Have you ever found yourself reaching for a snack when you’re not really hungry? Or maybe you’ve been so busy or worried that you’ve skipped meals without realizing it. Stress can push you to eat more than usual or not enough at all. 
  • Procrastination and Avoidance Behaviors – Putting things off until the last minute or avoiding tasks altogether can also be a sign of stress. When there’s a lot on your mind, it can be tough to focus on what needs to be done. It might feel easier to avoid tasks than to deal with the stress they cause. But this usually ends up making things worse as the tasks pile up and the stress grows even bigger.
  • Increased Use of Alcohol, Drugs, or Cigarettes – Sometimes, you might turn to alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes as a way to deal with stress. It might feel like these things help at the moment, offering a break from what’s bothering you. But using these substances as a way to cope can lead to more problems down the road. 

Stress shouldn’t control your life

Stress is a part of life, but it shouldn’t take over. If you keep feeling stressed even after trying to help yourself or if you’re feeling really sad or anxious, it’s okay to ask for help. Remember, many people feel stressed, and reaching out is a brave and intelligent step towards feeling better.