4 Ways Your Body is Telling You You’re Stressed

Classes, internships, jobs and graduation on top of everything else you have going on can truly put a lot of pressure on any college student. These stress-inducing factors really take a toll on both our mental physical health. You may not always associate stress with physical health, but sometimes your body needs to give you the signal to take care of yourself. Finding these signs are not always easy, and can vary from person to person, but we’re here to help you identify the most common ones.

1. Your body temperature rises during a stressful situation

Have you ever thought about why you break a sweat when giving a speech or preparing to talk to your boss? Jessica Plocher, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who works for Philadelphia Health Services, says that when stressful situations arise, your body can be the first to react.

According to Plocher,“Stressful situations can trigger a multitude of physical responses including sweating, flushing, shaking, dry mouth, restlessness, shortness of breath or tightness in the chest, light-headedness, frequent urination or diarrhea, increased heart rate.”

So if you do find yourself sweating through your blazer before a big presentation or your heart feels like it’s going to come out of your chest during a fight with a friend, it’s your body letting you know you need to calm down.

2. You’ve been losing hair, weight and sleep

When life gets stressful, it can be easy to ignore the signs your body is giving you. In return, our bodies suffer for it. Stress can cause you to stay awake thinking about your problems, reduce your appetite and cause poor nutrition.

“Long-term stress is associated with physical symptoms such as hair loss, gastrointestinal problems, weight gain or loss, sleep disturbance and fatigue,” says Plocher.

Making sure that you address your stress when you see signs of it, especially ones like drastic weight and sleep loss, is important so that it does not turn into a broader problem that may affect your life in different areas.

Related: How to Deal with Stress & Anxiety in Your 20s

3. You just can’t concentrate

"If getting through your calculus homework or focusing on your biology lab has been getting harder each time you have to do it, then your body is definitely trying to tell you there’s something else you need to address before you can study," Plocher says. “Experiencing poor concentration, memory problems, indecision and mood lability is common.”

Mood lability is another term for mood swings, which can affect your ability to focus on what’s important by taking you from drastic highs and ultimate lows in terms of your mood.

When little things like deciding what you want to eat for dinner, or reading a news article seem impossible because your mind is all over the place, then you may be stressed.

4. You’ve been diagnosed with other illnesses

Just like losing weight and hair, your body can give you signs of stress in other ways too. If you’ve been making more frequent trips to the doctor and getting diagnosed with anything from the flu to mood disorders, then it could be your stress affecting your immune system and mental health.

Plocher says, “Chronic stress is also associated with the development of anxiety and mood disorders, increased substance use, frequent illness and cardiovascular disease.”

Being stressed seems like a natural part of life, but ongoing stress can cause major problems for you and your body.

“In my opinion, the signs our bodies give us signaling stress are not so much ignored as misinterpreted,” says Plocher. “Increasing understanding of the relationship between mind and body and the impact of stress on physical and mental health is essential in mitigating stress, relieving symptoms and improving self-care.”

If you see your body exhibiting any of these signs, find out if your school has a counseling center, or mental health support groups for students under stress. If you want help outside of the school environment, apps like “Calm” can walk you through mindful activities to reduce your stress.. As always, check in with your doctor to see how they can help you cope with stress.