What are the warning signs of too much stress? Answering that question is harder than you might think.
Stress can build up in all sorts of ways, whether through major life events (such as losing your job or ending a marriage), or simply through a buildup of daily hassles that can reach a breaking point. But not all stressful experiences will affect us in the same way. According to Hans Selye, feelings of stress occur when our sense of homeostasis is disrupted and our body relies on inner resources to restore that natural balance. Which is fine until the stress builds up to the point that our inner resources are exhausted and we lose this ability to adapt to what is happening. That is when we reach that physiological and psychological breaking point more commonly known as "stress overload." It is also when be become particularly vulnerable to a wide range of physical and mental problems linked to too much stress.
But what are some of the signs that stress overload is occurring? While numerous stress symptoms have been identified, including fatigue, insomnia, headaches, etc., these can apply to anyone feeling stressed, whether they are feeling overloaded or not. While these symptoms may tell us that we need to relax, they don't work as warning signs that health problems related to stress are imminent.
A new research study published in the International Journal of Stress Management takes a closer look at the kind of symptoms seen in people experiencing stress overload and how they are often overlooked.
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.