Secret signs of stress
You may think you’ve got your stress levels under control. After all, you don’t suffer from insomnia, a racing heart, tension headaches, or any of the other classic signs of stress. But stress can also cause lesser-known symptoms. Here are eight unusual signs you might need to de-stress.
You can’t keep your eyes open
Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you find yourself taking a nap? It’s possible you’re simply exhausted, but it’s also possible that you’re experiencing stress-based fatigue, the body’s urge to try to shut down stress through rest. According to a large 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association, 32 percent of people experiencing stress reported fatigue as a symptom.
Extreme tiredness can manifest through three essential forms: Stress-based fatigue can feel emotional, similar to how you feel spent after an intense argument with a friend; it can be physical, like how worn out your body feels after a long run; and it can be cognitive, similar to how your energy fades after a marathon meeting at work.
Napping can be healthy in many cases, but if you find yourself snoozing every time you feel stressed, it’s important to see the difference between a rejuvenating cat nap and using sleep as a psychologically unproductive crutch. One symptom of depression is oversleeping, so if your fatigue feels like more of an ongoing form of mental distress then seeking therapy might help. Otherwise, enjoy the benefits of rest every once in a while.
You’re a ball of emotions
When you’re experiencing many emotions at once – rage, frustration, loneliness, fear – this can feel like an onslaught to your system. Perhaps your chest feels heavy, your thoughts are racing, and you can’t focus on the moment. You might be riddled with worry about the future or stuck on pain from the past. This is referred to as flooding. Everyday life is full of emotional experiences, but emotions that feel impossible to manage, such as frustration that arises in a heated, unprecedented argument with a spouse, falls into the flooded category. “Flooding is the amount of emotional reactivity someone is experiencing in any given moment that feels beyond what they have the capacity to respond to effectively,” says Arielle Schwartz, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist. The antidote is to focus on the here and now.