4 Tell-Tale Signs You're Stressed

Posted by Brauer Team on October 12, 2018 / Topics: Sleep, Wellbeing, Stress relief, Family, Detox, Health, Eating, Energy, Cover Story, vitamins, Holistic

4 Tell Tale Signs You Are Sressed

We all suffer from stress. It’s a depressingly regular part of our modern lifestyles. Or, rather, it’s a different kind of stress.

The human race has always had the stress reaction. It’s what saved us from danger and maulings by lions back in our cave dwelling days. That rush of adrenaline that is often called the fight or flight effect. It is what kept us on the evolutionary ladder. Fast forward a couple of thousand years and it’s a whole new world. Gone may be the daily threat of an attack by wolves, yet the reaction is still there. In the wild animal’s stead, we have modernity, technology and high-intensity living.

The culprits that cause the issues in our bodies are Adrenaline, Cortisol and Norepinephrine.

The stress hormones can seem like an evil triumvirate, out to get you when you are in the middle of a bad episode.

Yet these hormones are naturally produced and have a vital and necessary function. It’s just that in a natural (or caveman) state, they dissipate after the situation or death threat has passed. They serve their purpose and are swiftly swallowed into your system.

So what happens when your body interprets your daily stresses as one constant battle? This is when the real problems kick in, as this can turn into ongoing stress. Your brain registers this as full on attack. It begins to constantly pump these hormones through your system. That feeling of edginess you get when you read your mounting to do list? Stress. Impossible deadlines have you hunched over the computer, furiously typing and clock watching? Stress. Your child, parents or partner going through a rough patch? Stress. Clicking through social media and feeling like everyone is living a better life than you? That creeping feeling of loneliness or isolation that accompanies this? Stress. Money worries or mounting debts keeping you tossing and turning at night? Stress.

We tend to explain these away as normal facts or emotions of modern life. Yet often we can’t brush these off and carry on without doing harm to our physical and mental health. We become inured to our own debilitated mental state, particularly in Australia. There is an attitude of ‘she’ll be right mate, crack on with it’.  Combined with our colonial hangover of a British ‘stiff-upper lip’. It can be a dangerous perspective.  

So instead of ignoring the signs of chronic stress, learn to diagnose them. Below are four common signs of stress and anxiety.  Often misconstrued, here are the best ways to combat them.

Sore, Aching, Muscles?

1) Sore, tight muscles and a persistent stiff jaw?

If you have been suffering from a tight neck, rigid shoulders or even jaw aches you may need to consider this. Often, our body flexes and tightens up in response to stress. Back aches and cramping, curling toes and fingers are also a pretty clear indicator. Body language and posture tends to reflect our emotions, even when we are not aware of it. Grinding jaws and adopting a hunched position also comes into play. Do you find yourself repeatedly cracking knuckles or rubbing your temples or forehead? It’s a subconscious way to try and relieve the tension or stress.

Why does it happen?

Your muscles get the message that they need to be prepared to fight or run. They tense up in preparation. Yet constant stress never allows for the normal relaxing of these muscles. Instead, they remain on guard.

When a muscle fails to enter into the relax phase it sustains the tension.

This is when aches, cramps and spasms and tender, tight muscles occur.

How can I treat it?

Get a massage, preferably aromatherapy based.  Exercise is a great stress and tension reliever. If you exercise at a hard enough pace you will burn off those stress hormones. The mental clarity or ‘runner's high’ that comes after an intense session is brilliant for body and mind. This is due to endorphins, the feel good hormone.

It doesn’t even have to be high intensity. It could be a gentle methodical swimming pace. Immersing yourself in and out of the water can be like a form of meditation anyway. A long walk on the beach, a horse ride, a hike, a climb. Anything that combines exercise with something mindful. It helps you to get out of your everyday sphere of experience.

Trouble Sleeping At Night?

2) Lying awake and staring at the ceiling?

Do you lie awake at night, your mind buzzing over work or personal issues?

You are physically exhausted.

Desperately needing to sleep, yet your overactive and stressed out mind won’t play ball. If this re-occurs over a period of nights you are looking into the deep, dark depths of insomnia.

The badlands of sleeplessness. The barriers are down at the Dream Hotel.

You get the picture.

You may think this is normal, but it isn’t. It is also damaging to mental and physical health.

Why does it happen?

Stress wreaks havoc with our minds. When you are working or out and about during the day, you may be just as crazily mentally juggling plates. Yet you have to pay a modicum of attention to what is happening in your physical environment. So when you get home, tired and ready for bed after your stressful day, all you want to do is sleep. Your weary body lies down and relaxes. Closing your eyes, waiting and hoping for that moment of oblivion. The darkness takes away all other visual distractions.

Then, boy how does your mind start whirling.

Addressing all the many and varied niggles and concerns of the day or the week ahead. Suddenly your heart rate has picked up, you are vibrating with anxiety. You stare, wide-eyed and alert at the ceiling. All while being desperately tired. Welcome to hell, friend. 

How can I treat it?

Start by analyzing your diet. Reduce caffeine and cut back on unhealthy, sugary foods. Stop drinking alcohol in the evenings as it is both a stimulant and a depressant.

Exercise, either in the morning or before bed. Take a hot bath.  Relax. Practice unwinding the complicated skein of your thoughts and stresses in the tub. Add some aromatherapy oils like lavender and rose, known for relaxing properties. Make yourself a bedroom cocoon free of technology. Drink a cup of warm milk before bed.

These are great helpers, but you need to use them in tandem. Lastly, try a herbal sleep aid. Chamomile, Passionflower and Valerian are all excellent natural, sleep assisting products. Always, always, try and address the underlying problems. You can treat the symptoms, but to get better (and get to sleep) you need to treat the cause.

Struggling To Maintain Focus?

3) Did you just re-read this 3 times?

Find yourself having to re-read this three times? It’s not your eyes, it’s your concentration level. Poor focus and cognitive dysfunction are a very common indicator of chronic stress.

Obviously, this is bad news.

For work, you need the ability to reason, write, read and retain information. It doesn't matter what kind of job you do. That brain fog can be potentially dangerous. If it appears you are not listening in a meeting and you get called out on it by your boss, how are you supposed to respond? You can’t claim that it went in one ear and out the other.

Not very professional. It’s also dangerous in our personal lives. Driving, walking on the street distracted. It’s a high-risk situation that can’t be shaken off and dismissed.

Why does it happen?

Cortisol, like that annoying friend that just won’t take the hint, has come knocking again. It acts as an inhibitor on the hippocampus, sometimes even shrinking it. The hippocampus is like the control centre of our brains. It controls the limbic system which is responsible for both short and long-term memory and spatial navigation. It is also linked with our emotional behaviour.

How can I treat it?

Just. Take. A. Break. Get up, out of your chair and go for a walk. Get outside, even if it’s in the rain. Let the physical sensation of moving cleanse your palate. You need to take a moment to regain your calm. Deep breathing helps, as it pulls more oxygen into your lungs. This, in turn, oxygenates your blood. Walking away from the situation, allows your eyes, brain and body to re-adjust. A change of scenery is just as good as a holiday in this instance. Try this in conjunction with natural and traditional homeopathic remedies. Ones that either calm or help maintain focus would be ideal.

Feeling like a sad flower?

4) Sex low on the agenda?

This is the most disheartening sign. For both men and women, our libidos are highly affected by stress. For men, it can result in erectile dysfunction. The stress that caused the dysfunction in the first place is then exacerbated.  By the stress of the dysfunction and the attendant pressure. It seems farcical. It’s a vicious cycle.

Women, usually have a more complex and emotional arousal process. It can feel like a switch has been turned off. More damaging than this, chronic stress can even result in your menstrual cycle problems. It can become irregular or stop altogether.

This is called secondary amenorrhea and, it ain’t great. It means your ovaries have stopped working properly. Your body goes into shut down mode, diverting all secondary functions. Including dear old Aunty Flo.

Why does it happen?

Cortisol, our old friend, makes an appearance again. Cortisol actively suppresses the sex hormones.  Making it harder for both men and women to get aroused. Which is a tricky dilemma, because sex is actually a wonderful stress reliever. But if you can’t have sex or don’t want to- how do you go about this?

How can I treat it?

Diet, exercise and nutrition all help. Cutting back on smoking (which goes for everything in life) and alcohol. Both are major contributing factors to libido loss.

These are generalised stress management techniques. For a more targeted approach, look to natural herbal stimulants.

You may have noticed that there has been no mention of medication. That’s because we like to believe that is the absolute last resort. Introducing more synthetics or chemicals into your already stressed out system?

Not the best solution if you want to keep things natural.

Therefore, exhaust all natural alternatives first. Whether that is exercise, herbal or traditional homeopathic remedies, meditation or therapy.

Alternative therapies like massage and acupuncture can achieve wonderful results. The physical act of another human calming and soothing your aches and worries away cannot be underestimated. Used in conjunction with traditional natural therapies and homeopathic remedies, these are complementary.Think about it as a whole body, holistic approach to health and well-being.

Also, talk to someone.

Whether it’s a close friend, a family member,  your GP or a qualified therapist. Talking through your stresses is already an act of mitigation.

We bottle things inside and soldier on and this is so damaging.

Do yourself and those around you a favour. Start addressing the underlying issues. Come up with ways to make it more manageable. You owe it to your quality of life.

Get outside, have a laugh, meet up with friends, have more sex. Do something meaningful. Challenge yourself to stop accepting the status quo. Be brave. Be powerful. Be the best you.  

Check out our calm and stress range to help you find the Focus you need to combat everyday stress.