Author M. Scott Peck began his highly acclaimed self-help book, The Road Less Traveled, with the simple statement: “Life is difficult.”
How relieving to read those three little words…to have your feelings validated by a renowned psychiatrist! Your feelings of being overwhelmed and finding it difficult to cope with ever-increasing demands are not exclusive to you…in truth, many of us feel the same way.
Bad stress – distress – affects everyone. Bad stress can affect you the way you feel, think and behave. Left unchecked, it can contribute to serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
Just what are some signs that you’re stressed out?
Signs You’re Overwhelmed
Bad stress can affect our lives in many ways. If you’ve had a confrontation with a co-worker or you were stuck in heavy rush hour traffic, you can feel the effects at home….you may find yourself snapping at your children or nitpicking with your spouse.
You feel irritable, mad at the world – and mad at yourself. You forget things easily. It can feel like you’re in a general fog, second-guessing yourself on nearly everything.
You can’t fall asleep. And if you can catch a few hours of fitful sleep, you awake tired. Then you take one look in the mirror and…gasp. Oh, no. Mount St. Helen’s has just erupted on your chin. Your self-esteem plummets as you remember that you have a crucial office meeting today and have to address your co-workers with an unsightly acne breakout. Ugh.
The short temper…foggy state of mind…and even the hormonal changes that can cause skin disruptions can all be attributed to bad stress. Bad stress can also exacerbate psoriasis and can cause hives and other rashes. It can even cause brittle nails and hair loss.
All that stress is thought to be behind a host of other maladies that we’re experiencing at ever-increasing levels worldwide – some very serious, like diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.
The (Endless!) List of Stress Symptoms
The American Institute of Stress lists 50 common signs of stress. These can include trouble making decisions, nervous habits, overreaction, dry mouth, and difficulty in breathing, among a host of other symptoms.
The first three symptoms on the l-o-n-g list are:
- reoccurring headaches, clenching of the jaw, or jaw pain
- gritting or grinding teeth
- stuttering or stammering
The Huffington Post lists some astonishing ways you may be experiencing stress. The top three startling ways bad stress can be letting you know it’s insidiously affecting you are:
- strange or reoccurring dreams
- muscles become tight
Who knew?! Tooth problems along with changes in menstrual cycles are but a few additional signs your body is trying to tell you that bad stress is affecting you and something is not right.
Much like when your alarm clock goes off to let you know it’s time to get out of bed, your body provides you with many warning signs that you need to pay attention to. Left ignored, your body’s warnings can turn into major illnesses.
Women & Stress
Because stress is so common, many people believe it’s not harmful. But over time and left unchecked, it can have damaging effects on the body.
Nancy Molitor, Ph.D., psychiatry professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says one of the biggest problems she sees in her practice is women coming in with multiple signs of stress. According to Molitor, emotional stress alerts the body to produce chemicals like cortisol. If produced continually due to ongoing stress, it can break down the neurological, musculoskeletal, immune and gastrointestinal systems.
It’s no surprise then that a new study found that stress and negative emotions were linked to poor physical health. Women can be particularly prone to negative effects of stress, since many of us are juggling our careers with motherhood, school and continuing education, personal relationships, and lots more. We’re travelling more than we used to, we’re working hard to climb the corporate ladder, and we’re taking care of aging parents and ailing family members…trying to keep it all together – not an easy task.
Need a quick weekly burst of inspiration that will inspire you to kick stress to the curb – and have some fun in the process? Don’t miss out on my BOLD Move of the Week. Just click here to get instant access.
Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Colleen Slaughter, Proud Executive Coach to the UN World Food Program, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
As an Executive Coach for Women in Leadership and Transformational Facilitator, my intention is to help leaders in positions of high influence to understand their worth at a profound level.
Supporting women leaders to truly thrive and step into their greatness, while succeeding in male-dominated industries and spaces is my native genius.
My technique and approach show you how to achieve incredible career success without compromising any part of who you are and what makes you magnificent.