signs of stress

Stress does not only affect our minds, but our bodies as well. There are many somatic, behavioral, and emotional symptoms of stress that can be an indication we need to take a break and practice self-care. 

First and foremost…what is stress? 

“Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident.”


Stress can also help you meet goals such as giving a presentation at work it helps to sharpen your focus and keeps you on your toes. 

There comes to a point however where stress can stop being helpful and becomes harmful and starts to affect your life functioning. 

What causes stress?

External Causes
  • Work
  • School
  • Life changes
  • Changes in relationships
  • Finances
  • Relationship difficulties. 
  • Overworked
  • Overscheduled
  • Family life. 
Internal Causes
  • Overthinking/ rumination
  • Negative thought patterns
  • Focusing on what you cannot control
  • Lack of flexible thinking
  • Negative self-talk
  • Perfectionistic tendencies
  • All or nothing thought patterns. 

What are symptoms of stress? 

There are various forms of symptoms of stress: somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral. If you are aware of what your warning signs are for stress  you can intervene sooner. 

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Teeth grinding
  • Clenched jaw
  • Muscle tension
  • Stressful or strange dreams
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness 
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Change in menstrual cycle
  • Panic attacks
  • Worsening in physical conditions. 
  • Loss of sex drive 
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Overwhelmed
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Unhappiness
  • Trouble with focus
  • Trouble making decisions 
  • Impulsivity
  • Decrease in judgement
  • Racing thoughts 
  • Nail biting
  • Skin picking
  • Biting your lip
  • Using substances- nicotine, alcohol, marijuana 
  • Procrastination 
  • Change in sleep 
  • Change in appetite- binging, restricting, Craving comfort foods
what are symptoms of stress

What can I do?

You can be mindful of what being overwhelmed looks like for you in order to intervene sooner. you can practice self-care practices daily to help reduce symptoms at the end of the day. You can focus on healthy eating, getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness & meditation. If you struggle ongoing with stress, scheduling with a therapist may be beneficial.


Blog Disclaimer – These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.


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