8 Stress Response Signals You Should Know
Once upon a time, humans needed the energy generated by stress to survive. We were hunting, farming, or fighting the elements. The body’s stress response would switch “on” and provide a spike of “fight or flight” cortisol and adrenaline to complete the task. When the job was complete, the stress response would fade off. Stress response signals probably didn’t stick around like they do today.
Today, we don’t have to “fight or fly,” but we’re still in stressful situations that consume our day. According to this article in the Miami Herald, the American Psychological Association states that chronic stress is related to the six leading causes of death. Long rush hours, tense workdays, and family activities mean our body’s stress switch is always on.
As a result, our body thinks it is constantly under attack. As a result, we don’t get to rest, which takes a toll in the form of anxiety, high blood pressure, and other “diseases” of the body.
I know this was true for me in my life. I made many changes in my thirties toward better health and well-being. Still, the effects of stress were a critical piece of the puzzle.
Not only was I constantly stressed, but I was also suffering from post-traumatic stress after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My body had been pushed to its limits. As I began to manage my stress level through mind-body practices my state of health began to improve dramatically.
So how do we flip the stress switch to “off?” First, we have to recognize when we are stressed. Here are 8 Stress Response Signals You Should Know:
Stress Response Signal 1: Headaches
How often do you have a headache? What triggers them? Chronic pain can mean that you’re not able to offload stress. On the other hand, stress could be the culprit if you’re reaching for headache relief daily.
Stress Response Signal 2: Dry Mouth
Does your mouth get dry and uncomfortable when you’re anxious? When your stress switch flips on, your body stops making saliva. A chronic dry mouth may mean that stress is at fault.
Stress Response Signal 3: Sleep Problems
How much sleep do you get each night? How often do you wake up and can’t get back to sleep? Insomnia doesn’t give your body the release it needs to recharge. Lack of sleep can cause issues in the body to accumulate.
Stress Response Signal 4: Increased Frequency of Colds
How many colds have you had this year? Constant stress takes a toll on your immune system. The stress trigger takes over, and the immune system can’t fight off infection.
Stress Response Signal 5: Chronic Fatigue
How often do you feel tired during the day to the point that you have to take a break? If you’re always tired, it could be that stress is weighing you down. Constant cortisol and adrenaline spikes take a toll on your body.
Stress Response Signal 6: Extremes In Appetite
Do you stress-eat? Or do you turn away from food when you’re anxious? Depending on our emotional response to food, we can react to stress by overeating or not eating enough to sustain our bodies.
Stress Response Signal 7: Stomach Troubles
How often do you take antacids? That lunchtime hamburger may not be the source of your upset stomach. Stress can create turmoil in the digestive system, too.
Stress Response Signal 8: Shallow Breathing
Are you a shallow breather? The fight or flight response quickens your breath. However, suppose you’re experiencing sustained stress. In that case, you may not be able to draw a full breath, which minimizes the oxygen going to your brain.
Do you want to learn how to turn off that stress switch? Check out this post which talks in detail about understanding stress and the vagus nerve. This post provides six ways to balance your nervous system. If you have more questions, ask them here, or visit Healthy Living With Hope.