We all know that major life events such as changing jobs or moving house can be stressful. But how many of us are truly aware of the effect of the little everyday hassles and worries on our health? Panicking because you’ve overslept for work, feeling frustrated being stuck in traffic, nervously spilling your coffee across your desk, angry that you’ve ruined your keyboard…! These seemingly small stresses can all add up. So here are a few subtle signs of stress we all need to look out for:
- Changes to appetite: Be it eating more or eating less, if you find your appetite has changed, it could be the first sign of stress.
- A change in sleep pattern: If you’re struggling to fall asleep, it can sometimes be a huge help to speak to someone about what’s on your mind. Alternatively, if you catch yourself yawning throughout the day or longing to crawl into bed before it’s even 8 o’clock, this tiredness could be your body’s way of telling you to slow down and chill out.
- Reaching for things you shouldn’t: It could be an extra glass of wine or a cigarette – more stress means less willpower to resist the things we know we shouldn’t have.
- Teeth grinding: Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are tell-tale signs of stress but you may be completely unaware you’re actually doing it until your partner points it out. But when they do, get it checked out.
- Mood swings: Laughing at an internet meme one minute and crying at an advert the next? Switching between emotional extremes can often be down to stress.
- Becoming more reclusive: When once you would have RSVP’d without a second thought to every wedding, party, or night on the town, you’re now making excuses to stay home. Avoiding social interaction is a major giveaway when it comes to stress.
- Muscle tension: We don’t just carry psychological stress, it can also manifest itself physically, often in the neck and shoulder muscles. But there’s only so much a massage will do unless you get to the real root of the problem.
- Recurrent headaches: The odd painkiller can be harmless but if you find yourself repeatedly reaching for the medicine cabinet to treat a recurring headache, it’s time to see a doctor.
- Lacking enjoyment: If that hobby that used to entertain you, or that passion that once got you fired up is gone, it might be worth speaking to someone about ways to deal with stress to get your spark back.
- Dropping standards: Of course we all have off days, but when you find yourself taking less pride in your appearance or letting the housework slip, it might be time for a little self-care.
The odd symptom is usually no cause for concern, but if you find yourself repeatedly displaying several of the signs above, it’s best to speak to a healthcare professional. Similarly, if a friend, family member or work colleague is showing signs of stress, don’t be afraid to reach out and offer help. It could be just what they need to avoid developing longer-term health issues.
If you’d like to speak to a GP in confidence about finding effective ways to cope with stress, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 225 5656 and book an appointment at a time that suits you. We’ll give you all the time you need with relaxed, no-rush consultation and treatment sessions.