With all that's going on in the world, it's no surprise that people feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious. And stress can manifest in a variety of ways in both the mind and the body.
Take a look at seven common signs of stress, some strategies you can use to combat it, and some of our favorite ways to reduce stress.
1. Racing Thoughts
Racing thoughts are an obvious sign that you're stressed, but that doesn't mean you have to be stuck with them or that you should dismiss them as normal. You might feel like you can't find peace and quiet in your own mind. Or it might seem as though you can only focus on the negative aspects of a situation, stuck in a train of worst-case-scenario dominos.
If you find that you can't unravel the tangle of your thoughts no matter how hard you try, take a step back and look at the bigger picture — an outside source of stress may be weighing on you more than you realize.
2. Sleep Problems
Sleeping too much or too little can be a sign of stress. It might sound contradictory, but consider your regular sleep schedule in comparison. If you normally get a consistent amount or quality of sleep, changes can be a symptom of unresolved stress.
Perhaps you usually get plenty of sleep and now find yourself battling insomnia. Or maybe you cannot drag yourself out of bed in the morning no matter how early you hit the hay. Either way, finding productive ways to manage your stress may help.
3. Unexplained Pain
Pain is the body's way of alerting you to a problem, and usually, pain has a clear cause. But if you have unexplained aches and pains, it could be a sign of mental or emotional stress.
Chest pain, pressure, or heaviness is an incredibly common sign of stress and can itself be stressful. Headaches are also a major sign of stress, whether caused by muscle tension in the neck and shoulders or occurring seemingly on their own. Muscle tension in the neck and face can also lead to other issues, such as teeth grinding.
4. Changes in Appetite
Appetite and eating habits are another place where you'll see changes if you're dealing with stress.
For some, stress causes them to reach for comfort foods, often snacks loaded with the sugar, fat, and salt that the body craves during times of stress. Unfortunately, too much junk food may weaken your body's ability to fight off stress, leading to a vicious cycle of continual overeating.
For others, stress leads to a loss of appetite altogether. When you're not eating, your body isn't getting the nutrients it needs to function properly. This can lead to other stress symptoms, such as pain and fatigue. Stress can also cause digestive issues, such as nausea or vomiting, that contribute to a loss of appetite.
5. Weight Gain or Loss
These changes in your appetite may also lead to sudden weight gain or loss, especially if the stress lasts a long time. You might also experience weight fluctuations that don't match up with the appetite changes — you may lose weight while overeating junk food, or you might gain weight despite having no appetite. Everyone's body and metabolism are different, and stress affects everyone differently.
Digestive issues caused by stress can also contribute. Long-lasting vomiting or diarrhea, for example, can lead to weight loss. On the other hand, stress may lead to constipation and bloating, which can make you feel heavier even if you haven't put on actual pounds.
6. Sexual Trouble
Too much stress can be a double whammy against your sex life. First of all, when you're juggling too many stressors, it's easy to lose interest in sex. And then, even if you are in the mood, you might not be able to summon the physical responses you were hoping for. Stress wears out your body and your mind, both crucial players in a healthy and enjoyable sexual experience.
7. Risky Behaviors
Distraction can be a reliable way to cope with stress, but too much distraction can be a problem of its own. Risky behaviors such as extreme sports, binge drinking, increased drug use, or unsafe sex can be a sign of chronic stress. If you're engaging in riskier behaviors than is normal for you, consider what stressful situations you may be trying to avoid.
Okay… So What Now?
Thankfully, you have many options at your disposal to relieve stress. Here are just a few that may help.
Stick to a Routine
A solid routine is easier to stick to when times get tough and can help shoulder some of the weight of everyday stress. For example, if you know 6:00 is dinnertime and at 7:00, you go for a walk, that's two fewer things you have to worry about each day. Focus on developing a daily routine that works for you.
Exercise is one of the best ways to beat stress. Everyday exercise can elevate your mood and boost the presence of endorphins in your body. A good workout can also provide a welcome distraction from the things that are worrying you.
Write It Out
Journaling can be an effective way to get your negative stressful thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Don't think; just write — and when you're done, it can feel good to crumple up the paper and throw it in the trash as a symbolic gesture of letting go of your stress.
A balanced diet of healthy foods can give your body the tools it needs to fight the effects of stress in the long term. In the short term, you might notice that healthy foods give you a different energy or mood boost.
Focus on the Positive
I know, I know — it's easier said than done. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted: "That which we persist in doing become easy to do…" In other words, the more often you focus on the positive rather than the negative, the easier it becomes. A daily gratitude journal can be a simple way to accomplish this.
When you feel stressed, you can quiet your mind by focusing on the present. Draw your attention to your five senses and gently guide yourself back whenever you feel yourself starting to spiral. Deep breathing through the nose can also help you activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Ideas From the Pride
We asked the team here at HempLucid what some of their favorite stress-relief activities are. Here are just a few of their suggestions:
- Deep breathing
- Paddleboarding: feel the roll of the water beneath you and just breathe
- Hiking or any time spent in nature
- Cuddling with pets
- Spending time with loved ones
- Wrestling/sparring, "friendly violence"
- Dancing like no one's watching
- Gardening and feeding farm animals
- Listening to and creating music
- Tackling an easy chore
Of course, we always recommend CBD for stress relief, too. The endocannabinoid system is an important part of your body that works to keep you balanced mentally and physically.
Our Water Soluble tinctures are a timeless favorite, and our Stress Stacks were specifically formulated to support your body and mind during times of stress.
Whether you're a ball of nerves or cool as a cucumber, we hope some of the tips in this article will help you!
Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes; Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson; HelpGuide
Stress; Cleveland Clinic
What Is Cronic Stress?; Elizabeth Scott, PD; Verywell Mind
Stress Symptoms; Hedy Marks; WebMD
How to Feel Better in Less Than 15 Minutes; Tyler Wheeler, MD; WebMD