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There will be times when your life seems to be going a million miles an hour. You might be having a difficult time at work or at home, feel very busy, overwhelmed and can’t seem to relax. 

A little stress is normal, it can be used to motivate us, but there are times when stress starts affecting your life in negative ways, and prolonged periods of stress can cause mental and physical illness. Stress can be damaging to your health and it’s important to recognise when your stress is starting to get too much for you and you need to do something about it.

Here are 7 signs you’re suffering from stress

You’re unable to sleep

If you lie awake at night, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, your mind won’t be able to relax or “switch off” so you can go to sleep. Even if you do get to sleep, the quality of your sleep will be poor. You might be restless and tired because you haven’t had a proper sleep. The part of the brain that controls your sleep patterns continues to pump out stress hormones, which leads to difficulty in functioning correctly, leading to a vicious cycle of tiredness, poor coping and stress. 

You have headaches

If you have a sudden onset of headaches and know you aren’t sick or dehydrated, stress could be the problem. Stress is a common trigger of tension-style headaches and migraines. Stress-caused headaches can also trigger more stress – another unhealthy cycle of stress symptoms.

You have a change in appetite

Did you know that two-thirds of people overeat when they are stressed? The stress hormone glucocorticoid stimulates appetite and can take a few hours to leave the body, which is why many people overeat when they feel emotionally overstimulated. A lack of hunger can also be a result of stress which is why some people find they lose weight during stressful periods.

You have mood swings

Stress affects your mood, leaving you more irritable, and more likely to experience highs and lows. You might feel like you have trouble controlling emotions and find yourself lashing out at those close to you without any warning or reason. 

Increase in alcohol consumption

When you’re stressed, you might find yourself relying more on vices like alcohol. You might have used to drink only at social occasions or a few times a week, but when you’re stressed, this might increase to every night which is damaging to your health and not a good way to cope.

You get sick, often

Everyone will get sick every now and then, but if you find yourself taking sick days more than a few times a year, it could be a sign that you’re stressed and rundown. Stress suppresses the immune system, which makes it easier for you to get sick and harder to fight off bugs. 

You lack confidence

If you start feeling nervous or insecure about things where you once were confident, this could be a sign your stress is affecting you. A build-up of stress hormones can suppress the brain chemistry that makes us feel like we’re on top of things.

Prolonged periods of stress can wreak havoc on your emotional, physical and mental health and it’s important to identify the signs of stress before they start having a major impact on your life. 

If you think your stress is affecting your life more than usual, contact your local GP or your usual psychologist to seek help. Psychological counselling can provide an emotional, safe place to explore barriers to improving mental health. If you’re looking for a Melbourne psychologist in the Yarra Ranges, get in touch.