Between 2016 and 2017, over 500,000 employees in the UK were affected by work-related stress, with 12.5 million working days lost due to depression, anxiety and stress, according to government statistics. Stress is often described as the feeling of not being able to cope with the pressure of everyday life or a particularly difficult time in a person’s life. People who have suffered with work related stress report feeling overloaded, under serious pressure and are very emotional. Stress is a mental illness and can not only affect you on an emotional and mental level, but it can also affect your physical wellbeing. Those who are depressed, feel anxiety or are stressed tend to crave fatty and sugary food, are sleep deprived and don’t tend to look after themselves as much as they normally would. This can have a dramatic impact on the body and can even weaken the immune system, meaning you’re more likely to become ill and find it difficult to fight off infection. More serious conditions caused by stress can include high blood pressure, heart palpitations, cardio-vascular problems, migraines and chronic fatigue syndrome.
With this in mind, here are 5 signs of stress that you should never ignore.
One of the first signs of stress that you can notice physically on the body and especially on the face is problematic skin. If you’re suffering from breakouts, blemishes, unexplained rashes or your eczema is becoming worse, this could be an indication that you’re suffering from stress.
If you do notice breakouts, blemishes or problematic skin, you can use topical creams to help reduce the redness, irritation and damage to your skin, but you should also look at your daily life and routine and see if you can identify whether you may be suffering from stress, anxiety or depression.
Weak Immune System
If you find that you keep catching a cold or you can’t seem to kick a viral chest infection, stress may be to blame. Stress can cause you immune system to weaken, meaning that it is more difficult for you to recover from illness. The chemical reactions triggered by a stressful event or situation can cause stress hormones to be pumped around the body. These hormones can interfere with the immune system which can result in inflammation, reduced white blood cells which makes you more prone to infection and tissue damage.
To boost your immune system while dealing with stress, you should eat a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, take regular exercise and get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
The NHS defines anxiety as the feeling of unease, worry and fear that can be mild or severe. It is quite normal to feel anxiety in your life, whether it be before a big exam, a job interview or a special event, but feeling anxious on a daily basis is a sign that you may be suffering from stress. This feeling can affect how you live your life, as you may begin to withdraw yourself from socialising, going to work or putting yourself in situations which you believe might trigger your anxiety. Anxiety can lead to panic attacks, phobias and social anxiety disorder. Often anxiety is caused by post-traumatic stress when you can experienced a particularly bad or painful experience recently or in the past.
If you think that you’re suffering from anxiety, you can speak to your GP or family and friends who will be able to help you through this stressful time.
Shortness of Breath
Breathlessness can be a sign of stress, especially if you’re struggling to catch your breath without actually doing anything physically demanding. If you walk up a set of stairs and find it hard to catch your breath, this is quite normal, but if you’re breathless before leaving the house or while getting ready for work or to meet a friend, it sounds as though you may be suffering from anxiety or stress. Sometimes shortness of breath causes anxiety, while other times shortness of breath is brought on by anxiety. There are ways to deal with stress induced breathlessness such as taking up yoga or meditation, but to put your mind at ease, some people prefer to speak to their GP.
When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to crave sugary and fatty food and snacks to give yourself a quick burst of energy. This is because stress takes up a lot of energy from your body and makes you feel tired and lethargic. Whether you’re dealing with sleep deprivation, anxiety or suffering from a continuous cycle of colds and flu due to a week immune system, you will notice that you can’t help yourself from indulging in all matter of sweet stuff and junk food. If you notice that you’re eating a considerable amount of sweet fatty food, it’s time to look at your lifestyle and consider whether stress is an issue.
Stress can affect people from any walk of life, at any age and at any stage in their life. It is not thing to be ashamed of, but left it can cause you serious health problems. If you think that you might be suffering from stress, anxiety or depression you should try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, seek help and support from family and friends and speak to your GP.