Stressed man holding his head due to headache

SECRETLY STRESSED: 3 hidden signs that you need to slow down

Stop for a moment, and breathe. Do you feel stressed? It can be hard to tell. Stress is so normalised in today’s society that many people have forgotten what it feels like to not be stressed. A culture of overworking (often while balancing busy family life) is to blame, and it’s becoming more and more common. Being stressed is not a state in which our minds and bodies thrive. While we need a certain amount of challenging activity, pushing ourselves too far can be seriously damaging.

How can you tell when you’re stressed?

It’s not always easy to recognise when stress is the reason you’re feeling or acting differently. However, there are some warning signs that you should be aware of. Stress can cause lots of different symptoms, and it can affect the way you behave, as well as how you feel mentally and physically.

The 3 most common indicators of stress are:

  • Feeling overwhelmed, and constantly worried. There are many mental symptoms of stress, but they often involve feeling helpless and anxious. You might also have trouble making decisions, being forgetful, or have difficulty concentrating.
  • Unusual or changed behaviour. You might feel more irritable and snappy, and you might be drinking or smoking more. People suffering with stress also tend to see changes in their sleeping and eating habits – whether that’s having too much, or too little.
  • You have muscle tension or pain, and you’re grinding your teeth at night. Stress can manifest in many physical ways. You might experience headaches or chest pain, even a rapid heartbeat. But teeth-grinding is often top of the list; an unconscious indicator while you sleep that you’re feeling stressed.

If you’re feeling under pressure, it’s always helpful to first address the root cause of your stress. Keeping a diary can help you reflect on what’s going on in your day-to-day life, allowing you to be mindful about your emotional wellbeing. Some people also find meditation useful. If your stress is severe, and you feel completely overwhelmed, a form of talking therapy could be beneficial to you. Your GP will be able to assess your symptoms and refer you for an appropriate treatment.

What about the physical symptoms?

Stress is often accompanied by muscle pain and teeth-grinding or clenching. This is a sign that your body is holding tension – and sometimes, it may be a case of reminding yourself to breathe, or to unclench your jaw throughout the daytime. Breathing exercises can be helpful for this, as well as setting regular reminders on your phone to relax your jaw.

Night-time teeth-grinding can be harder to address. This is because many people aren’t aware that they grind their teeth at night unless they experience symptoms the following morning. Common signs include headaches, jaw pain, and sensitive or damaged teeth. It’s important to treat bruxism as early as possible, as the dental damage it causes can lead to serious health issues later on.

Mouthguards designed to treat the symptoms of bruxism are often an effective solution. The Bruxeeze Night Guard can be worn on the upper or lower teeth while you sleep, and helps to protect your teeth from the effects of grinding and clenching. Wearing a mouthguard consistently will offer the best results – this is because on some nights, you may hardly grind your teeth. But on other occasions, it’s possible that it occurs up to hundreds of times in one night.

By taking steps to deal with stress, you’re protecting both your mental and physical health. For more information about managing stress, visit the NHS help webpage ‘Understanding Stress’.