8 Common Signs of Stress on Your Body

8 Common Signs of Stress on Your Body
Stress Can Really Mess Up Your Life. Learn to Identify the Signs your Body is Telling Your About Stress.

Stress affects us, and not in a good way. We all know this, but there's hardly anything most of us do about it.

Unfortunately, stress has become a part of our lives. It has integrated into our lives so well that it seems like a normal thing that we have to deal every day like any other task, when, in fact, it's not.

For most of us, juggling exams, job, kids, or personal relationships together is proving to be extremely stressful in the modern world.

Stress is a natural response of our body that helps us figure out the danger. It's stress that basically gets the work done.

But it becomes a problem when stress goes out of control, and starts to consume our lives.

Our brain and body are great at adjusting as per the environment. That's why we get accustomed to the stress we experience every day, and are able to handle even very high levels of stress.

But just because you handle high levels of stress on a daily basis effortlessly, that doesn't mean that the stress is not affecting your body.

When it gets out of control, stress comes out in other forms. These "forms" can take the shape of a mental illness like depression, or physical illnesses, like joint pain, and even heart diseases.

Major illnesses occur when you are chronically affected by stress. But there are simpler signs that occur when stress is just beginning to crawl into our lives. The thing is, we often ignore these signs, or don't realize that it's because of stress.

The key is to identify these early signs and take action right from the beginning.

Here are some of the most common signs of stress that you need to look out for.

1. There's an Acne Explosion Happening on Your Face:

acne, signs of stress, stress results in acne
Stress Could be a Cause of Your Adult Acne

This is the most common way stress presents for me.

I remember during my final year final exams of medical school I had an outbreak of acne on my face like never before. No part of my face was spared. It was the worst episode that I ever had. I didn't even have that kind of breakout during my teenage. And I knew that it was from all the exam stress that I was going through.

And yes life can be that way sometimes.

It turns out, it's actually one of the most common form stress presents in.

Your "adult acne" is probably a result of all the stress you go are going through.

It's unclear why stress causes acne, but a 2003 Standford study proved that it does.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, is believed to be the culprit. It causes increased production of oil which is thicker than normal. As a result, the thick oil blocks your pores.

The greater the stress, the severe your breakout will be, since the cortisol levels will be more.

And not only does it causes acne, but stress also flares up the already existing acne.

So, you see, stress-reduction should be the first thing in your skincare routine.

Additional Reading: Read more about Stress-related acne; how stress causes acne and how you can manage them here: Stress Acne: Could Your Adult Acne be a Result of Stress

2. You Can't Sleep:

signs of stress, sress induced insomnia
Stress-induced Insomnia is Another Major Problem Today

One of the most common causes of insomnia in the modern world is stress.

Stress causes insomnia by hyperarousal.

Hyperarousal means that your brain fails to shut down. Let me explain how.

How many times has this happened to you: you lay down on the bed hoping to get a good night sleep, but your mind is racing with million different thoughts. And you can't sleep.

These running thoughts are the things that are stressing you out. And these thoughts are perceived as a danger by your brain. Your brain stays alert to keep you ready to deal with the danger; either fight or flight. Until you relax, your brain won't shut down as it would think that the danger is still out there. And the Sandman never comes.

Now, the next day you lay down and worry about not being able to sleep again. This "worry" will stress you out and further worsen your sleep pattern. This leaves you with the stress-induced-insomnia.

It's a vicious cycle of stress; you worry and then you worry about your worry and can't sleep.

3. You Get Frequent Headaches:

stress causes headache, signs of stress, tension headache, stress headache
Tension Headaches or Stress Headaches is Experienced by 80% of the Adults At Least Once in Their Lifetime.

Stress headaches are another most common way acute stress presents.

Stress being unavoidable, around 80% of the adults experience stress headaches at some point in their lives.

Stress headaches (AKA tension headaches) presents with pain in the head (forehead region), scalp and neck, associated with muscle stiffness in these regions.

The pain is usually mild to moderate in intensity, and it is described as a tight band wrapped around the forehead.

A stress headache can also result from poor sleep, which is again not uncommon when you are stressed.

Studies suggest that stress can lead to the onset of headache disorders, provoke and worsening headache, and even play a role in the progression of headaches into chronic headaches.

4. You're Anxious Most of the Time:

stress worsens anxiety, anxiety, signs of stress
Stress Causes Anxiety

The stress you go through every day is one of the major reason behind your anxiety. It can be the reason for the sporadic episode of a panic attack you experienced. It may also be the reason for your anxiety disorder, requiring medical attention.

The stress hormone produced makes your brain perceive that a danger is present and give rise to the features of anxiety.

The signs and symptoms of both stress and anxiety are somewhat the same, because stress is basically first step to anxiety. So, to be able to differentiate between the two is important because anxiety requires a more professional approach.

Both of them presents with increased heart rate, palpitations, extreme fear or worry, insomnia, and sweating. But the severity of the symptoms of anxiety is more.

Stress will cause internal uneasiness but it won't affect your functionality. Anxiety, on the other hand, will cripple your functionality. You'll find it very difficult to breathe, and a strong fear of impending doom will be present.

Managing your stress will ease down your anxiety and will also prevent episodes of an acute anxiety attack.

5. Irritability and Mood Swings:

signs of stress, anger, irritability, moody
She's in a Mood Today

Arising out of the feeling of no control over the situation, irritability, mood swing and anger always go hand-in-hand with stress.

Nobody likes to feel too much stressed, and when stressful events pile up on our plate, we are likely to burst at some point.

The fearfulness, anxiety, and being overwhelmed all the time fuels the irritability. Nobody likes to feel helpless.

Identify which feeling is behind your moodiness; is it your anxiety, or is it the feeling of helplessness. Or are you overwhelmed and are about to break?

It is important to identify the feeling so that it becomes easier to aim at that particular emotion to eliminate moodiness from its root.

A few other things like smoking (nicotine), stress eating leading to blood sugar spikes, drinking alcohol, etc, also lead to anger and irritability. It may be attributed to the feeling of guilt or how they chemically act in our body. These habits make stressed out people vulnerable to moodiness and irritability as these are the things people reach out to when they are in extreme stress.

6. Poor Judgement, Concentration and Memory:

Poor judgement, stress affects judgment
My Advice: Don't Make Any Major Decisions When Under Stress

Are you going through a lot of stress lately and have a huge life decision pending? Well, I suggest you let the stress get neutralized before you make the decision.

Stress affects your judgment and decision, and not in the way you might think.

According to the Association for Psychological Studies, stress actually makes you look at the positive outcomes of any situation.

Trust me, it's not always a very good thing (we'll see how, in a while).

Decision making is a cognitive process and involves weighing the risks, rewards, and consequences. Stress disrupts the neurons in the prefrontal cortex that are associated with calculating all these factors and making a decision.

When we are under a lot of stress, we tend to prematurely conclude the results, without calculating the whole situation. We lose the ability to compare the risks and the rewards.

Stress also leads to poor concentration, affect our short-term learning abilities, and causes forgetfulness.

So, if you feel that your memory is not as good as it used to be and if you just can't focus anymore as well as you used to, it might be time that you check your stress levels.

7. You are Spending a Little More Time in the Toilet:

signs of stress, upset stomach,
Stress Upsets Your Digestive System

Have you ever felt nauseous or had to run to the toilet before a big exam or presentation? That's the effect of stress!

When under stress, the blood flow to your gut decreases, the contraction of gut muscles are affected and the production of digestive juices also decreases. This impairs your digestion.

It can also make your oesophagus go into spasm, and increase acid secretion in your digestive tract, causing nausea and acid reflux.

Stress is linked to causing irritable bowel syndrome as well. So, diarrhea and constipation could be a result of your stress.

8. You are Reaching for Wine a Little More Frequently:

signs of stress, wine
Stress Induces Substance Abuse

Remember when we discussed how stress affects our judgment and when I said that it's not always good to see the positive outcome of everything, in point number 6?

You reaching out to cigarette or alcohol way too much during stress is one of the very good example of why looking at the positive of everything is not always in your favour.

You tend to look at the short-term reward of consuming the addictive substance, i.e. feeling relaxed or a few minutes of escape from the reality. That's is why the incidence of substance abuse in chronically stressed out people is very high.

For us, it's very easy to look at why we shouldn't consume drugs or alcohol. But for someone going through immense stress, consuming substance may seem like a good idea to get a relief from the reality for some time, because of the messed up neuron functions in their stressed-out brain. They can't judge that it is not going to make the problem go away, and will actually add up to their problems and guilt.

So, if you are in fact reaching out to wine a little more than usual, stop right there! You are not doing yourself a favour.


Stress has the potential to cause serious health problems; from heart diseases to diabetes and even mental illnesses. And hence, our goal should always be to minimize stress. A one-day-stress won't give you diabetes, but you should be able to tell when stress has crossed from the normal side to the abnormal side, and has become a serious problem in your life.

Don't let stress consume your life. You can't avoid it, but you can manage it.

Take advantage of the simple ways to minimize stress, like exercise, journaling, meditation, etc.

The good thing is that, your body will always tell you when things get out of control. Identify the signs when your body is telling you that the stress has crossed its limits, and is now posing a danger to your health.

Keep these points in mind, and try to manage stress, so that you can live your life the way you want to.

So, now that you know how stress might present on your body, check out 7 easiest science-backed ways to de-stress, that will help you deal with your stress.

Don't let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries. 
- Unknown

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© Quirky Writes 2018


  1. This is a fantastic post...sharing it for sure.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. I live with a lot of stress and can certainly recognise some habits from reading your post. I have children with disabilities so there is no way to avoid the stress and I do find it hard to put time aside for myself to help my body de-stress but I am starting too.

  3. I recognise a lot of these signs, unfortunately, and nodding along to them has rather shocked me. Thank you for sharing such an informative article, much appreciated.

    Lisa | www.lisasnotebook.com

  4. Great post! Many of these signs go ignored unfortunately.

  5. Really informative - I recognise so many of those signs. Great advice, thanks for posting!

  6. Thank you for sharing this! Most of the things you talked about I’m suffering from a
    So it’s nice to know that there could be a reason for it.


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