When people are under a great deal of stress, they often work hard to hide it from others. The problem is, stress and fear cause the same physiological reactions. Your body doesn’t know the difference between the fear of a lion about to eat you and the fear of a boss about to fire you. Biologically speaking, stress is just fear. Here are 5 ways your stress may be painfully obvious to others that you may be completely unaware of.
Poor oral health
If your significant other complains or makes comments about your sudden chronic halitosis, stress may be the culprit. Stress can cause your saliva glands to stop functioning properly, which in turn can give you dry mouth, which is a common cause of bad breath. Chronic stress also causes an overabundance of cortisol, which can weaken your immune system over time. Your mouth is constantly exposed to bacteria, which saliva helps to fight off. When your mouth is dry and your immune system is compromised from too much cortisol, your gums may be tender, sore or even bleed as a result.
Rapid weight gain or loss
Stress activates your “flee, fight or freeze” instinct, which sends a chemical cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters flooding through your system, preparing you to flee, freeze or fight. Some of these include adrenaline and cortisol. The problem is, modern stressors often can’t be dealt with by fleeing, freezing or fighting, which just leaves and abundance of adrenaline and cortisol running loose in your system. In some people, excess cortisol causes them to eat too much while in others, it causes them to lose their appetite entirely. While you may be complete unaware of it, others are likely to notice a sudden drastic change in your weight.
If you’re constantly tired all the time, this might be a symptom of stress. There are many reasons for a link between fatigue and stress. The first is that when you are under stress, your muscles tense and tighten, which requires energy. Think of carrying an extra 10 lb. backpack all day and that’s essentially what stress does to you. Chronic stress can also lead to depression and there is a very strong link between depression and fatigue.
Moodiness and irritability
When you are constantly tired, you also have a tendency to be moody and irritable. Not to mention that whatever you are stressed about probably has a direct effect on your emotions as well. Most people are not happy when they are stressed out and over time this can take a significant toll on relationships. Everyone can have a bad day, but if you are tired, angry and irritable and the time, it might be a result of stress.
Sometimes, people try and fight off the fatigue and irritability caused by stress by suddenly deciding to do something fun or spontaneous like skipping work that day or even jetting off somewhere for the weekend. While this may not be a bad thing in and of itself, chronic stress can cause ever more erratic behavior.