10 Tell-tale Signs You’re Seriously Stressed

10 tell-tale signs you’re seriously stressed

Seems that everyone I talk to these days is stressed.

Over worked, under rested, too much to do, not enough time \ money etc etc…..

Stress has almost become what a dog in a hand bag is to the ‘it’ girl – this seasons must have accessory.

That’s not to suggest that stress isn’t a serious problem for some people.  It can be debilitating and life changing.

But stress should not be confused with being busy at work, running late or screaming & shouting at the mind boggling flat pack furniture instructions written entirely in hieroglyphics.

These things may cause you some short term annoyance, anger, frustration and such but the real worry is long term or ‘chronic’ stress – that can seriously fuck you up.

Short term stress can actually be a pretty useful thing.

When our body senses some form of danger it unleashes a cocktail of hormones to pump us up, ready to do battle or run away.

These days though that battle is normally to finish some work or a project on time.

The hormones help us to focus and concentrate at a rate we could not have achieved otherwise.

The benefits can be physical too – ever heard of people lifting cars off injured people? The ‘fight or flight’ response as it’s called will unlock every ounce of strength you have and instantly transform you into a super hero.

Chronic stress is when something affects you all the time and doesn’t just pass quickly.

This type of stress can be harmful to your health, career, relationships or you own sanity.

The worst part is that it can be tricky to realise that you are chronically stressed.

Whereas short term stress often helps to protect us from something, long term or ‘chronic’ stress often just makes things worse.

The triggers, symptoms and responses to different stressors are highly individualised.

Whether you become Stressed Eric or the Incredible Hulk when you feel like the world is against you will depend on so many factors that it can be hard to predict from one person to another or even one day to the next.

Identifying that you’re chronically stressed can be one of the most vital things you can do to start addressing the issue(s).

Here are some (but not all) of the common signs of stress.


Over thinking

Men are always being told they don’t think enough but the reality is that a lot of us actually think TOO MUCH.  Most of the time though it’s not useful or productive.

Sometimes it’s running through the ‘what if’s’ about things you could have done or could have done differently.  Other times it’s dwelling on the problem and how badly it’s affecting you and how low it’s making you feel.


Beating yourself up

Getting a dressing down from the boss or your wife can feel pretty brutal at times.  Like a swift slap on the face.  It can hurt at the time but will pass fairly quickly.

But there’s a special kind of feeling you get when you criticise yourself.  It’s more like hitting a wall whilst riding your bike, slipping off the saddle and crashing down on the cross bar – nuts first.  That pain lasts a LOT longer.

You can definitely be your own worst critic.

The worst part is that you probably get annoyed at yourself just for being so hard on yourself.  You can’t win when you get stuck in that mind set.


Seeing red

That feeling when your whole face heats up to volcanic levels and you just can’t hold yourself back anymore.

Losing your temper more frequently is a sign that you’re in a constant state of arousal (not sexual, you filthy animal).

Your senses are constantly heightened and you find yourself snapping at friends, family and colleagues over trivial matters that you would otherwise let slide.


Paralysis by analysis

It seems odd that the more work we have to do, the less productive we feel.

But it is all too common for people to be less and less motivated as the stress of their workload increases.

It all comes down to ‘not knowing where to start’.

It’s like having a million piece jigsaw and not being able to find any of the corners or pieces that make up the edge.

The more you ignore the work, the worse the problem becomes, the more you worry about it, the more you ignore it and so the cycle continues.


It’s not all in your head

Stress affects you physically too.

In fact, it could be said that the physical effects are just as severe as the mental ones.

When we’re chronically stressed, our body releases hormones to help us deal with this, one of which is cortisol.

Cortisol helps to heighten our senses as a protection mechanism against potential danger.

The negative effect of elevated cortisol levels reduced blood flow and activity in ‘non-essential functions’ such as the digestive and reproductive systems.

No big deal if you’re trying to run away from a bear, but that’s unlikely when you’re sitting at your desk.

Prolonged levels of increased cortisol will leave you feeling tired with no sex drive.

Cortisol also alters your immune system response.  There is only so much stress you can put it under before it is unable to stop you from getting ill.


You get ill then moment you relax

You know when you’ve been slogging away for months but the reward of your holiday is all that keeps you going?

How many times do you come down with some kind of sickness almost as soon as you allow yourself to relax?

As well as cortisol, being stressed also increases adrenaline release to help you power through and stop you noticing quite how much you are depleting your energy reserves.

The moment you stop and your adrenaline and stress levels start to fall, your body is powerless to keep you going any longer.

It has no reason to.  After all, you’re safe now and that grizzly bear is nowhere to be seen.


Floppy, tired & sleepy

Hardly catchy names for a reboot of Snow White’s questionable house mates.

But this is what stress will do to your sex life.  Assuming you had one in the first place (depends if you’re married or have children).

You will find that you do not feel like having sex.

You would rather roll over and go to sleep without passing go or collecting £200.

If you do then it’s highly likely that you won’t be able to ‘get it up’ anyway which is certainly going to do nothing to benefit the way you already feel.


All the pain, none of the gain

Assuming you’re determined enough to still train even when you don’t feel like it you will probably experience really poor recovery.

This will usually manifest itself in terms of knee, elbow or shoulder joint niggles or prolonged muscle soreness.

Contrary to what the meathead in the gym says, muscle soreness is NOT a good indicator of a good workout or muscle growth.  It simply means you have worked too hard \ under recovered.

Struggling to lift your arms over your head or sit on the bog might be a bitter sweet feeling every now and then but if it’s constant you will soon fall out of love with training.

Or even worse – develop a serious injury.


Eat. Sleep. Repeat (or avoid)

Everyone is different but your appetite and sleep will dramatically increase or decrease.

Whichever it is does not bode well.

After all, the side effects of the appetite fluctuation are going to be lack of energy, extreme weight loss leading to poor health or excessive weight gain.

You might think that sleeping more is a good thing but when it’s stress related you are not going to feel refreshed no matter how much you sleep.

In fact, you’re more likely to just want to sleep more and withdraw yourself from social situations in favour of staying in bed.

The flip side of course is lying awake all night and then struggling to stay awake during the day.


‘All I need are cigarettes & alcohol’

Whilst I hope you are now singing that Oasis classic to yourself, there is a serious point to it.

Smoking & drinking alcohol can seem like a better escape for a lot of men than comfort eating.

It might start out as just 1 or 2 beers after work or the odd cigarette but over time you could end up needing more and more as you try and escape your woes.

Drinking daily is fine but keep an eye on how much to help make sure it doesn’t get out of control.


How depressing!

While this could well be one of the most depressing things I’ve ever written, it’s also one of the most important.

It can be all too easy to be suffering with chronic stress without even realising it or just assuming that it’s normal.

Very often the symptoms of stress are cumulative over time, which means they go unnoticed until something breaks.  That could be your physical or mental health or your relationships with friends family, colleagues or partner.

Whilst this list of possible stress indicators is not exhaustive, it is a good place to start.

If any one of them rings a true with you then addressing it sooner rather than later would be advised to make sure things don’t get out of control.


What else can I do?

I realise that essentially this is a huge list of problems with not many solutions.

Offering advice over the internet can be a tricky business as each person is different.

If you are worried about your physical or mental health, there is no shame in seeking help or advice from a friend, doctor or counsellor.

Having said that, I will follow up this article with one that offers some top tips on how to manage your stress levels.

Alternatively you can download my free infographic on the topic at www.totalfitnesscoaching.co.uk

I HATE those ‘KEEP CALM’ posters you get EVERYWHERE but ‘Keep calm, relax and be happy’ actually sums up my closing point pretty well.
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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