What Overeating, Insomnia, and Anxiety Have in Common
Most of us imagine “stress” as a furrowed brow, rolled up sleeves, and fingers massaging temples. But stress can actually show up in a variety of unexpected ways.
This blog reveals:
- The relationship between stress and sugary foods
- How stress impacts our sleep cycle
- The difference between being ‘stressed’ and being ‘overwhelmed’
- A simple quiz that explains how you can fight your unhealthy symptoms of stress
Stress just won’t leave the United States alone.
Roughly 80% of all adults say that they experience stress within their jobs. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Infrequent, short periods of stress can be helpful.
In the workplace it can help us focus and work more efficiently, and in general life it can act as a potentially life-saving bodily warning system.
The problems start when stress doesn’t leave us alone… when it becomes “chronic.”
The negative effects of long-term stress can be mild, such as making us more irritable, or more severe, such as weakening our immune system and raising our blood pressure.
Americans are no strangers to these feelings. According to the API, almost 50% of all Americans say that stress has negatively affected their behaviour.
To make matters worse, this problem can manifest in “silent” ways that we don’t normally associate with “stress.”
Meaning, many of us are stressed without even realising it.
Can stress cause sleep issues?
Many sleep issues can stem from being overly stressed.
When we spend long periods of time in such a high state of alertness or anxiety, we can often find it difficult to fall asleep. Your body may feel tired, but your mind is wide awake. We’ve all experienced the sensation of being unable to fall asleep due to various thoughts rushing through our head and agitating our minds.
The problems don’t stop once you fall asleep; the quality of your rest will also diminish significantly.
You may find yourself waking up frequently due to an inability to engage in the deep REM sleep that we desperately need.
The next day, you wake up feeling irritable, groggy… and even more stressed than you were before. So the vicious cycle continues.
Will stress cause you to eat too much?
Stress has a polarizing effect on our appetite.
In the short, fight-or-flight episodes of stress, it actually makes us feel less hungry. Why? Because our body sees this sensation as a distraction and a threat to accomplishing the task at hand.
However, once stress starts sticking around for extended periods of time, it has the exact opposite effect, and causes us to start craving food. And not “good” food, either. Specifically, foods that are high in fats and sugar.
That’s because stress causes us to expend energy, and so our body is looking for the fastest way to bump our energy and blood sugar levels back up.
This leads to another type of cycle that’s incredibly hard to break free from. You can read more about that here.
Can stress make us sad?
Long-term stress that goes uncared for can definitely increase our risk of feeling upset, melancholy, and depressed.
When we cannot properly cope with the experience of stress, we can obsess over it, and the rest of our life tends to suffer.
We can become unproductive at work, become less present and available for a loved one, and even alienate ourselves from friends and family.
It can also lead us to develop unhealthy living habits such as infrequent exercise, poor eating habits, and not leaving time for activities we love.
These situations can definitely lead towards a life devoid of fulfilment and joy.
Does stress make you overwhelmed?
Many confuse being ‘stressed’ and ‘overwhelmed’ as the same sensation, but they’re actually quite different.
Stress can lead to the sensation known as emotional overwhelm when we perceive our stressors to have become too great for us to be able to cope with.
This sensation is descriptively summarized by Talkspace below.
“… It entails being completely overcome by an intense and unruly emotion that something is too challenging to manage and overcome… It can be difficult to think and act rationally, and even function in a normal way… This feeling is uncomfortable and the causes and effects can span across your personal and professional life.”
Does stress make us anxious?
Prolonged stress can also be a trigger for other emotional states, such as anxiety.
While we can all feel anxious or nervous from time to time, this is different. We become entrenched in irrational feelings of worry and dread that in the most severe cases can leave us feeling emotionally paralysed and unable to make “big” decisions.
The fear of doing the “wrong thing” can infiltrate even the most routine elements of our lives, leaving us frustrated, fatigued, and burdened.
How does stress show up for you?
The many potential disguises of chronic stress can make it difficult to identify and fight against.
That’s why we’ve developed our short and simple stress quiz!