International Stress Awareness Week: 7 signs you might be too stressed

International Stress Awareness Week: 7 signs you might be too stressed

Everyone gets stressed from time to time, but when is it time to speak to a doctor about it?

While experts say that a little stress is OK – it can actually be beneficial in some situations – chronic stress can be bad for both your mental and physical health.

As today marks the start of International Stress Awareness Week, we asked experts to share the signs that you might want to get the issue checked out with your GP.

1. You’re always in a bad mood

Scared Animation GIF by Loreta - Find & Share on GIPHY

Constantly find yourself snapping at your other half? “When you’re stressed, your body releases stress hormones including cortisol,” says Pablo Vandenabeele, clinical director for mental health at Bupa.

“These hormones can affect your mood and energy levels. As a result, you may feel more irritable or worried than usual, or you might find that you struggle to concentrate or make decisions.”

2. You’re not sleeping properly

Sleeping In Rules Gif By gif - Find & Share on GIPHY

“Stress can disrupt normal sleeping patterns in different ways,” says Vandenabeele.

“Some find they’re constantly tired and want to sleep as much as possible, while others struggle to fall asleep and wake up during the night thinking about the things that are causing them stress.”

If you notice your sleep has changed, it might be a sign to book a doctor’s appointment.

3. Changes to your sex drive

Sad Got The Blues GIF by Emma Darvick - Find & Share on GIPHY

As Earim Chaudry, medical director at men’s wellness platform, Manual explains: “Stress can have some seriously adverse affects on both your happiness and your libido.”

This is because when your body reacts to stress, it adjusts to prepare you to either run away or stay and fight in response to a perceived harmful event.

“During your ‘fight or flight’ response, the body experiences an increase in heart rate and blood pressure to help you act quickly, while non-essential survival functions, such as sex drive, are diminished.”

4. You feel more emotional than usual

Oh No Love GIF by ailujulia - Find & Share on GIPHY

If you find you’re prone to crying more often than usual, it could be a symptom of stress.

“When we’re tired, things simply seem more difficult to handle,” says Vandenabeele, who adds: “It’s not uncommon to feel more emotional when you’re tired or stressed.”

5. You’re getting sick more often

Sick Flu Season GIF by Emma Darvick - Find & Share on GIPHY

Along with lowering your mood, stress can also affect your immune system.

“Increased stress levels can mean you’re more likely to get sick, and it takes you longer to get well again,” notes Vandenabeele. It can also cause problems such as aches and pains, headaches and nausea.

6. You’re overeating or undereating

Hungry Feed Me GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

When you’re struggling to cope, you might open the fridge and look for something that will satiate your need for comfort – such as a sweet treat.

“We call this ’emotional eating’, where people use food to help them deal with stressful situations,” says Chaudry.

“Funnily enough, in its immediacy, stress actually eradicates hunger, as the nervous system sends messages to the adrenal glands to pump out adrenaline,” he explains.

“Adrenaline helps trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold.

“If stress continues though, the adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, which increases appetite. This is one reason you might be reaching for the doughnuts after a day at the office.”

7. You’re drinking more than usual

Happy Hour Rose GIF by AliceDes - Find & Share on GIPHY

Many people like to unwind after a stressful day with a glass of wine or pint of beer.

“People can tend to drink alcohol more when they’re stressed as a way of helping them relax,” says Vandenabeele. “However, alcohol can alter the chemistry in your brain and actually make you feel worse.

“Along with feeling tired and nauseous from a hangover, you may also find you’re jittery, anxious and feeling down after a night of drinking.

“It’s also best to avoid drinking too much caffeine as this can increase your stress levels.”

If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed by stress, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before the situation gets out of hand.

A qualified medical professional can recommend therapies and strategies to help you better handle your stress and get back on the road to recovery.

More on this topic

HSE warned that winter plan won't have an impact without extra staffHSE warned that winter plan won't have an impact without extra staff

Increase in use of penicillin during Nenagh Hospital superbug infection in 2018Increase in use of penicillin during Nenagh Hospital superbug infection in 2018

Fearne Cotton says she is not ‘ashamed anymore’ as she speaks out about bulimiaFearne Cotton says she is not ‘ashamed anymore’ as she speaks out about bulimia

Coveney compared to 'conductor of Titanic orchestra' over handling of health serviceCoveney compared to 'conductor of Titanic orchestra' over handling of health service

More in this Section

Passenger loses 370,000 air miles after smuggling overweight cat on to flightPassenger loses 370,000 air miles after smuggling overweight cat on to flight

Puppy with ‘second tail’ growing from his head found wandering the streets of MissouriPuppy with ‘second tail’ growing from his head found wandering the streets of Missouri

Mars launching vegan versions of Galaxy chocolate barsMars launching vegan versions of Galaxy chocolate bars

Confusion as 'Grafton Quarter' Christmas lights unveiled in DublinConfusion as 'Grafton Quarter' Christmas lights unveiled in Dublin


Lifestyle

In an industry where women battle ageism and sexism, Meryl Streep has managed to decide her own destiny – and roles, writes Suzanne HarringtonJeepers Streepers: Hollywood royalty, all hail queen Meryl

'Ask Audrey' has been the newspaper's hysterical agony aunt “for ages, like”.Ask Audrey: Guten tag. Vot the f**k is the story with your cycle lanes?

Daphne Wright’s major new exhibition at the Crawford addresses such subjects as ageing and consumerism, writes Colette SheridanFinding inspiration in domestic situations

Christian Bale and Matt Damon tell Laura Harding about their roles in Le Mans ‘66, the tale of the men paid by Ford to take on the dominance of Ferrari in the motor-racing worldFoot to the floor: Christian Bale and Matt Damon talk about Ford, Ferrari and the 24 hours of Le Mans

More From The Irish Examiner