Stress that is veering into the danger zone comes with tell-tale physical and emotional signs. These are the key things to look out for.
“When we are in a fight or flight situation, the body releases lots of stress hormones including cortisol to gear the body up to cope with an emergency. Someone who is under chronic stress has cortisol pouring into the bloodstream all the time. In the long term, too much cortisol can damage the immune system,” says psychologist Gladeana McMahon. Take note if you start getting infections all the time or really bad colds. Some studies suggest that a lowered immune system can even lead to cancer.
Your sleep patterns can be disrupted by stress that is getting out of control. Early waking is a sign to look out for. Insomnia is also a key sign. If you are regularly using sleeping pills to try and get some sleep, it may be time to assess your stress levels.
Appetite levels can drop off a cliff, or you can start eating all the time. “If you start being excessive about your eating habits, this is a sign that all is not well,” says McMahon.
Frequent headaches and muscular aches and pains can be a sign of growing stress, according to McMahon.
“Lots of my clients report that they are angrier than normal and little things can set them off. Too much stress can heighten emotion so you may find yourself crying for nothing, or screaming and shouting at someone over nothing,” says Jacqueline Hurst, a clinical hypnotherapist and master life coach.
Libido levels plummet in times of high stress, and lack of a sex life can put further strain on a relationship.
People under too much stress may react hastily to situations and quickly regret it.
“Confidence goes out the window. As stress levels increase, confidence and self – esteem decrease,” says Hurst.
So how to make sure you are one of the thrivers? No one can change the economic downturn or alter the fact that juggling a job with bringing up children is stressful, but we can all change the way we think about our lot in life, according to Jacqueline Hurst. “I believe that people’s thoughts rule everything and I am always challenging my clients to change their beliefs and their thinking. Step back and ask yourself, is that going to make any difference at all in five years time? Is this really an extreme situation like the Blitz when Londoners faced death? Try and get a sense of perspective.