How to Recognize Stress

depressed womanFor some of us, stress is easy to recognize. We feel a sense of overwhelm, and we know we need to either change our direction or move away from the source of the problem.

But sometimes, stress sneaks up on us and we may not recognize it so readily. That’s when we can check out these symptoms:

I’m exhausted yet I can’t sleep.

When you catch yourself saying, “I’m so tired,” you may be stressed.

When you lie down at night but your mind is racing with a million things to do, you may be reacting to stress.

When the usual methods of falling asleep aren’t working anymore, your body may be too stressed to react properly.

I keep forgetting things.

This is a scary place to be, because sometimes our minds immediately race to, “Is it Alzheimer’s? Is it dementia? Oh God – I hope not!”

It probably isn’t something as drastic as a brain problem. When you forget where you’ve laid your keys or you can’t pull up someone’s name – it may simply be an overload of stress.

But when the forgetting becomes more frequent or you forget something that is vitally important, it’s time to consider the side effects of stress.

Sometimes, all we need is a day off to reboot ourselves, but sometimes we need a more drastic intervention.

I keep getting sick.

Stress can affect the immune system and leave us vulnerable to the germs and bacteria all around us. If you’re constantly fighting a cold, you may be stressed.

Stress can come in the form of emotional and mental struggle, but it can also manifest itself in a host of physical illnesses.

When the body is physically stressed, it is in the state of dis-ease.

Stress is particularly adept at attacking digestive issues. When your stomach feels wound in knots and/or you’re visiting the bathroom every thirty minutes – your body may be reacting to additional stress.

The best way to remedy this symptom is to rest. Force yourself to take a day off from work. Find a quiet place to rejuvenate. Drink lots of water and eat veggies. Stay away from harmful carbs and the junk food that torments our digestive track.

The medical community is becoming even more aware of how stress affects us physically. Here’s an article on the effects of stress on the gut.

I’m self-medicating.

Have a craving for chocolate? Ice cream? Potato chips? Just started a nice bottle of Merlot and now it’s empty?

Stress can often chase us toward some type of coping mechanism and usually, these aren’t the healthiest choices.

And with time, our self-medicating choices will lead to additional stress on our bodies. Some of our bad choices can also lead to addictive behaviors which will of course – add even more stress to our lives.

The vicious cycle will continue and worsen through self-medicating behaviors. Then it will affect the quality of our lives and lead us into a downward spiral that takes even more energy to crawl out of.

Check yourself to see if you’re self-medicating in any form – any obsessive behavior that gives you a slight buzz for a short while, then causes a physical or emotional crash.

If this sounds familiar, you may be stressed.

I’m extremely emotional.

As women, we tend to think and react emotionally, but when we find ourselves overly emotional – crying at the simplest things – we may be stressed.

Tears are an important release and we often need to cry, to unload some of the pressure and/or to grieve in a healthy way.

But if you find yourself crying at every commercial or yelling at someone who doesn’t deserve it – check the stresses of your life.

If your emotions are normally on an even keel and now suddenly, you’re changing into a female version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – you may be stressed.

You may also be dealing with a hormonal cycle that will play itself out. So be wise and look for the root of all your emotional outbursts.

Check out this website which includes a small questionnaire about the symptoms of stress.


These are some of the possible symptoms of stress. The ways we deal with stress may determine how we overcome it and learn to function around it.

So be aware of how stress may be affecting you. And when it seems to overwhelm you, read a Psalm, phone a friend or contact us at GateWay of Hope. 

We can help.

©2016 GateWay of Hope