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Signs You're Stressed (And Don't Even Realize It)

Stress kills. Curbing stress can save your life and sanity. Not sure whether to hit the “pause” button on life? Watch for these subtle signs you’re stressed.

Photo by Riccardo Mion on Unsplash

No one likes to be stressed out—but it’s not just unpleasant. As science has started to show, stress is actually very dangerous for your health. Temporary levels of stress cause heightened levels of cortisol, a hormone that promotes belly fat and inflammation throughout your body. Prolonged levels of stress are linked to heart attack, stroke, obesity, sleep disturbances, and mood swings.

Long story short, it’s not a stretch to say that stress can kill you. The problem is, we live in a stress-filled world. Bills pile up, drama happens between friends, and there’s always the chance of having things just randomly fall apart. When you look at how life affects a typical person, it’s understandable why so many of us suffer with health problems from stress.

There are times when stress isn’t always that easy to notice. I ought to know, I didn’t realize I was stressed until I had hair falling off my head in large chunks—and I’m a girl! Thankfully, stress doesn’t have to do permanent damage.

If you notice you’re stressed and take measures to manage it, you can get back to your normal self. It took a couple of days of hard work, but after I realized that my stress was out of control, I was able to manage it with the help of an app.

You see, brands like MoodShift have started to create apps and products that help you relieve stress, but chances are you’ll only use them if you’re already visibly frazzled. Not sure if you’re stressed or just tired? Here are some indicators that you need to relax.

You find yourself asking for reassurance more often.

Many people tend to get their most stressed when they feel alone, or feel like they have no one backing them. They feel cornered, so they start to look to others to be strong for them. This leads to asking people to back your opinions (and actions) up.

The reassurance questions were what made me realize it wasn’t just a vitamin deficiency causing the hair loss. It was stress! Take a good look at how many times you ask for reassurance. Do you find yourself needing it on a near-constant basis? This is actually one of the more reliable signs you’re stressed without knowing it. 

Drinking has become an increasingly large part of your life.

Studies have long shown a correlation between substance use and stress, especially when it comes to drinking. The reason why it’s so heavily tied to stress is because liquor offers an easily attainable, temporary escape to problems.

Drinking, in particular, is known for being a crutch that “takes the edge off” for many people. That’s why a sudden unexplained increase in drinking is one of the most reliable signs you’re stressed. The problem with turning to drinking to solve your problems is that you can fall into addiction and seriously harm your health.

Should you notice an uptick in your substance use, it may be time to find a healthier coping mechanism, such as using an app like MoodShift’s ShiftMe Passports. ShiftMe doesn’t use drugs to make your life stress-free.

Rather, it uses a natural method called the Shoshin Technique to help you unwind. “Shoshin,” which means “beginner’s mind” in Japanese, is an allusion to what the Shoshin Technique’s all about. Using non-judgemental, simple questions, this technique helps you relax by making you see things from a new perspective.

Your sleep habits have started to change.

Sometimes, it’s really not your behavior that gives away your stress levels. Even if you are going good on your day-to-day life, your sleep habits will start to show warning signs that are going to be hard to ignore. During stressful times, you might find yourself tossing and turning more often.

Anxious, stressed people tend to develop insomnia when things become too much to bear. Even when they do sleep, they often will toss and turn, resulting in grogginess in the morning. Sound familiar? You may be a bit stressed.

The relationship you have with food changed.

Stress makes people change their eating habits, too. Most people start stress-eating away their worries, primarily because food is linked to comfort for so many people. Dieters may go so far as to ditch their calorie restriction or forgo any positive changes they have altogether.

A smaller percentage of people may forget to eat altogether, or actively get repulsed by food. One of the main risk factors of eating disorders is having high pressure to be perfect, along with a high-stress lifestyle. If you’ve started to notice yourself obsessing over food, you’re definitely stressed.

You’re starting to feel a need to “prove” things.

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

Stress is both a psychological and physiological phenomenon that triggers your “fight or flight” instinct. If you choose “fight,” you may start to feel compelled to rail against what is upsetting you. Usually, it’s not an equal reaction to the trigger that sets you off.

This often leads to people who overcompensate for their problems, rather than approach their issues with a level head. It can also lead to projecting your worries onto others. No matter how you look at it, this isn’t good news.

I actually had a lot of fights with coworkers because of this issue, and once the stress went away, so did the quarrels. Looking back, I realized I was trying to prove myself because I felt so out of control. Wild, isn’t it?

People have mentioned that you seem more aggressive or controlling towards them.

Stress often comes from feeling like you’re out of control. This often manifests in behavior that really isn’t that nice—most often, aggression and attempts to control people around you. Even if you think it’s subtle, people around you will notice and get worried.

If people have been mentioning that you’ve been snapping at them, acting angrily, or even seeming more irritable than usual, get concerned. This is one of the few signs you’re stressed that suggest you might be putting your personal relationships at risk.

Using the Shoshin Technique from MoodShift’s apps is a really good way to cut down on this. By asking yourself questions and sparking your creativity, you will be able to guide yourself away from the mentality that exacerbates this kind of behavior.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop obsessing.

Things that stress us out have a tendency of leaving negative thoughts in our minds, and they tend to multiply. You might even feel “stuck in a loop” where you can’t think of anything but what worries you. I honestly don’t know anyone who didn’t have this issue at least once.

Breaking out of that negative loop, even if it’s through something as simple as having a question that distracts you from your thoughts, is crucial to keeping your mind healthy. An app like ShiftMe Passports can help you rethink your loops, thereby cutting down stress significantly. 

Though you can’t fully explain why, you can’t focus on anything.

Did you ever notice how hard it is to complete a task or answer questions when you’re stressed? You might feel like all the knowledge you once had just flew out of your mind, or you might find it hard to just keep your mind in one spot.

Sudden forgetfulness or brain fog might not seem like one of the more reliable signs you’re stressed, but it is. Most of the time, the inability to still your mind, focus, and actually remember things is a sign that your mind is on overload mode. 

You haven’t been looking too good.

It’s no secret that stress can and will affect your physiology. Cortisol and other hormones spike during moments of stress, and that wreaks havoc on your appearance. Stressed out people might gain weight, break out, get bags under their eyes, or get dry skin.

Personally, I have a tell-tale problem with stress: my hair falls out and I start getting very dry skin. If it really gets bad, I might also start to bloat. Water weight gain related to stress usually happens due to craving salt from comfort foods—which I indulge in when jittery.

Though these issues can be brought about by other factors such as an undiagnosed long-term hormone imbalance, they also could be signs you’re stressed. You need to listen to your body to figure out where the stress is coming from. 

It always feels like something’s not quite right.

A lot of people tend to forget that a general feeling of malaise ranks high among indicators of emotional stress. Many people describe it as a “sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach” that just won’t go away. I personally liken it to feeling like you’re waiting for something to break, or a nagging feeling that everything will turn foul at some random point.

Contrary to what your gut might be trying to tell you, nothing is out to get you. If you’re just feeling all-around wonky, you might want to grab an app like LifeShift by MoodShift for iPads and tablets, to see if it helps you out. You’d be surprised at how much it can help. 

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