Are you afraid you’re experiencing emotional stress? Or is it perhaps somebody in your environment who might be going through it?
Then you most certainly need to take steps to deal with that.
The first thing that you need to do is make sure that it’s actually emotional stress, because if it’s something else then you might end up treating the wrong thing (and that can mean the problems don’t go away or even get worse).
You can start with the question ‘do I feel stressed?’ You’ll probably have some indication of whether that’s the case or not right from the bat. Of course, that need not necessarily be enough.
Perhaps you’re not sure what emotional stress really is. Or perhaps you’re not terribly in tune with your emotions and can’t recognize them exactly for what they are – just like I can’t tell the difference between teal and cyan.
There is even a condition, called Alexithymia, which is where you can’t identify or describe emotions in yourself. So being sad, angry or disgusted would all be described as feeling ‘bad’.
In that case, you would obviously need to pay more attention to your physical symptoms in the hope they might give you a clue as to whether you’re emotionally stressed.
What is emotional stress?
Emotional stress is not a clearly labelled phenomenon. It’s a wide range of problems and can range all the way from having a few down days to a more chronic condition. Note, that if you’re having a few down days you shouldn’t immediately pull on the bell or go see your doctor.
Though we might strive to be happy all the time, that’s not actually how we’re built. We can’t always be happy and we’re going to have down periods and moments where we struggle. It doesn’t matter if you’re working as a translator, are an Arab Sheik or work on a farm, that’s just how it is.
At the same time, if you’re feeling you’ve been on edge for a long time now without really feeling you’ve been able to get your head above water, then it might be time to take action.
What are the signs you’re experiencing emotional stress?
1. Sleep problems.
If you’re struggling to sleep well if you can’t fall asleep or if you keep waking up during the night, this could be a sign of emotional stress. If you’re struggling to sleep well more often than twice a week and there are no physical problems, then that means you’re probably dealing with psychological issues.
2. Big weight fluctuations.
Here we’re not talking about a few pounds over the course of a few weeks or months. We’re talking more about serious swings which don’t really make a great deal of sense, particularly as you aren’t changing how you’re eating or exercising.
Similarly, do you find yourself constantly thinking about food or repulsed by it? Then that can also indicate emotional stress.
3. Unexplained physical symptoms.
Do you have physical pains or problems you can’t explain through some kind of physical cause? Then it’s very possible that mental stress is responsible.
Some things to look for are headaches, rumbling stomachs, diarrhea, constipation and chronic pain. Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Other problems might just as easily be caused by emotional stress.
4. Temper problems.
Do you suddenly have a short fuse where normally that isn’t a problem you struggle with? Do you find yourself blowing up for little to no reason? Then that could well be down to emotional stress. It’s like the kettle that’s close to boiling.
Steam will leak out where it can. Do note, the pop psychology idea that ‘letting off steam’ is nonsense. Expressing anger will only make it worse. So, find ways to deal with your anger.
Also, a lot of people who struggle with anger are liable to blame other people for it – as that’s when they’re the most likely to feel it. But you can’t blame other people for your hair-trigger anger.
5. Compulsive and obsessive behavior.
Are you obsessing about bad things or feel that you have to do a certain behavior all the time in order to feel normal? Do you feel like something bad is just over the horizon? Do you worry about your safety and have to recheck that you’ve locked and secured everything?
Then you’re dealing with some serious anxiety issues. You’ll have to deal with that soon – or perhaps you’ll need to get some help to deal with them over the long term.
Do you lack energy or do you feel tired all the time? That might not just be down to not getting enough sleep. Often emotional stress can contribute to these kinds of problems as well. So if you’re feeling too exhausted to do things that you used to love, then you might well be dealing with emotional stress.
7. Memory problems.
Are you becoming more forgetful? Is it hard to recall things that you used to before? Then that too might be linked to emotional stress. Do note, there can be other reasons for memory problems.
Maybe you drank too much last night. Maybe you’re going through menopause. Or perhaps you’re so focused on one thing (like work) that you don’t pay enough attention to other aspects of your life.
8. Avoiding social situations.
If you find that you don’t feel like going out and are declining social events, then this could be a sign that you’re experiencing too many emotions and that you are going through emotional stress.
9. No longer enjoying sex.
If you’re struggling to get enjoyment from sex and aren’t really sexually attracted, then this might also be down to emotional stress.
10. Erratic behavior.
Have people commented on how you’re ‘not yourself’ or doing strange things? That too is a good indicator of underlying problems that you’re not dealing with correctly. Note that sometimes other people are more aware that you’ve got problems than you are.
So what do you do?
If you’re experiencing a number of these symptoms, then there is a good chance you’re going through emotional stress. The more symptoms there are and the longer they persist, the more important it is you take action.
If you can identify the reason why you’re feeling emotionally stressed, then you should consider doing something about changing that. Note, there can be several reasons and sometimes what you think is the cause is only a symptom. So consider carefully what you’re going to do.
Speaking to a professional is a good idea as well. These people can often give you insights that you otherwise might not have. For that reason, why not seek one out near you?
You don’t have to immediately commit to seeing them for months on end. Sometimes one visit can be enough for you to gain some insights.
Also, don’t be afraid to simply take some distance for a while. Try to take a holiday. And don’t make it one where you run around like crazy and do lots of things. Instead, find a quiet place, away from it all, and spend a bit of time reflecting on your demons.
Sometimes this can already be enough to get things back under control. Even if it’s not, you might just get the insight you need to take further steps that will help you.
Whatever you do, don’t let it just fester. Yes, it might just go away. It also might get worse. And the deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the worse things can get.
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