In today’s world, stress is almost unavoidable. College exams, job interviews, entrance exams for graduate programs, and big deadlines at work can all be sources of stress. Some people even contend that stress is the new status symbol!

If you’re anything like me, then you handle stress on a day-to-day basis. But as much as we try to manage it, sometimes our busy lives can get the best of us and start affecting our health in surprising ways. If you notice any (or all!) of these five signs of stress, take a step back and assess how you’re really feeling.

Fatigue and Problems Sleeping

I am very serious about getting a good night’s sleep. So much so that I often joke about turning into a pumpkin at midnight. If I have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep (and it can’t be blamed on too much caffeine), then I know it’s time to do something about my stress levels.

Headaches and/or Muscle Pain and Tension

Your body knows how to react when under stress, so it’s important to listen to the signals it’s giving you! If you’re feeling uncomfortable, there’s a good chance it has something to do with the amount of stress you’re experiencing. Personally, I tend to feel the tension in my neck and shoulders. So, when that area starts getting uncomfortable, I know it’s time for me to take a break.

Changes in Mood

Have you been extra testy with your friends, feeling antsy, or crying more often? If so, it might be that stress is taking a toll on your emotions and therefore your behavior. This isn’t to say that every bad mood can be blamed on stress, but if you’re having trouble snapping out of it chances are stress could be the root cause.

Lack of Motivation or Focus

This is one of the most common signs of stress. When we’re feeling stressed, we can start to feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin. This can make it very hard to get anything done. For some people, stress can be a motivating factor. But if you’re losing focus on a project that’s important to you or that you were previously excited about, stress may be the root of the problem.

Overeating or Undereating

The food you consume powers everything you do, and both overeating and undereating can lead to problems (the word “hangry” exists for a purpose). So, if you find that your eating habits have changed recently, stress may be the root cause.

Realizing you’re experiencing one or more of these factors is the first step. Try a physical activity or a different stress management technique to help in the short term. Some personal favorites are long walks and yoga. Controlling your stress level can not only improve how you feel now but also your long-term health according to scientists. Stress has been linked to memory loss, a weakened immune system, and weight gain.

But don’t worry! Sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and regular workouts will help lower your stress levels and improve your well-being. Levo also has articles with useful tips on managing stress at work, during your job search process, and even during the holidays.

If you are experiencing any of these signs of stress, what methods do you use to cope?

If you want to know how Nanette Lepore manages stress, ask her!

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