Stress is an integral part of life. Everyone everywhere feels stress; some of that is good stress, or stress that moves us forward. This could mean uncomfortable public speaking, or making your first independent dentist appointment, or buying a house. Yet there is the negative stress in life, too, like a death in the family, feeling overworked, or getting sick. If you feel that negative stress, you are far from alone. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, at least 44% of Americans reported frequently feeling stressed during their daily lives. Only 4% of respondents reported never feeling stressed.
So when is your stress level unhealthy? There does come a point when you should seek out help for unnecessary stress. High stress levels left unchecked can lead to many mental and physical health effects such as insomnia, headaches, and high blood pressure. Overall, it cuts down your life expectancy and quality of life. Here are some signs you should seek out professional stress management services.
- Stress can both keep you up at night and make you feel mentally and physically drained of energy. If you’re having intense dreams, trouble going to sleep, or issues getting out of bed in the morning, it may be due to stress.
- Frequent sickness. When stressed, your immune system is weakened and can’t effectively fight off infections it normally would have no problem handling.
- Headaches, migraines, and even chronic body-wide pain. There are a lot of ongoing studies that are trying to pinpoint the exact reason high levels of cortisol can lead to aches and pains in the whole body.
- Acne, rashes, or eczema. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can cause higher rates of acne, and even flair ups like rashes or old skin conditions.
- Intense mood swings or moods that are atypical for you. Stress can often give you depression-like symptoms of apathy one second, and make you snap in a rage at family and friends the next.
Yes, stress management can fall under mental health services, but don’t let that deter you. There is still a stigma around mental health services that doesn’t deserve to be there. It’s natural to need some extra support and coping skills to get through extra stress. Never deny yourself services like therapy because of how you think it appears to others. It’s not a sign of weakness or giving up, but rather a step toward taking care of yourself and living a more enjoyable life.