Your wi-fi goes out mid-presentation. The car breaks down on the way to the store. It’s inconvenient, but you take care of it. Then your child’s school calls to inform you that they’re causing disturbances in class. As the day goes on, things seem to pile up and it’s just one thing after another.
You start to feel tense and moody. Perhaps you’re short on a call with a co-worker or the attendant at the gas station. Your shoulders pull up, causing tension in your neck, and you suddenly get the urge to eat something sweet—and a lot of it. A dull headache starts pounding in the back of your head. You have all your usual stress warning signals.
These signals aren’t just your body communicating stress. It’s your body warning you that it needs help.
Stress is your body’s natural reaction to demands that disrupt life as usual. And stress can be good, such as when it helps you conquer a fear or pushes you to get something done. But there’s also bad stress, which is caused by money, job, relationship, health, or other worries, whether short or long-lasting.
Feeling stress for too long, whether for hours or months, sets off your body’s stress warning signals that appear physically and emotionally.These warning signals are like your car’s “check engine” light. And if you neglect these alerts, in time, there will be a major engine malfunction. Chronic stress, or a “check engine” light that has been on for much too long, is known to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and suicide.
So, keep an eye out for these most common stress signals to know when your body is communicating that it needs less stress and more self-care:• Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain • Upset stomach • Dry mouth • Chest pains, rapid heartbeat • Difficulty falling or staying asleep • Fatigue • Loss of appetite or overeating “comfort foods” • Increased frequency of colds • Lack of concentration or focus • Memory problems or forgetfulness • Jitters • Irritability • Short temper • Anxiety
We all react to stress differently, which means our bodies may send out different signals. You may not feel the warning signs until days after a stressful activity. But when you do notice a warning sign, pay attention, and don’t take it lightly.