Crazy Stressed? Here's the 5 Signs That It's Gotten Unhealthy

Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images

From Women's Health

No doubt, a little bit of stress can shake you into a place where you're ticking things off your list at the speed of a former Love Island contestant doing live PAs at regional club nights.

But in the side hustle, social media-saturated world of 2019, it's also easy for you to stray out of this territory, and to become unhealthily stressed.

A study commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation found that 74% of the UK were ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope' at some point during 2018.

Plus, 81% of women said this compared to 67% of men. Meanwhile, 32% of adults said they had experienced suicidal feelings and 16% of adults said they had self-harmed, both due to stress.

Photo credit: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury - Getty Images
Photo credit: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury - Getty Images

So. How do you know that you're in the warning zone – and what can you do about it?

WH spoke to a range of psychologists and wellbeing experts to get the detail.

First off, what is stress, medically speaking?

'Stress is your body’s response to mental or emotional pressure, hormones and chemicals are released that prepare you for physical action – a fight or flight reaction – which can have very uncomfortable side effects,' explains Dr Jo Gee, founder of women’s health and wellbeing directory The Luna Hive.

'Symptoms may vary from person to person, but often include physical symptoms like fast heart and breathing rate, headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, emotional symptoms including overwhelm, tension, frustration, and cognitive symptoms such as a busy mind, constant worry and inability to concentrate.'

Signs that you're unhealthily stressed

Overworking and stress may manifest in a range of ways for everyone, but there are key tell-tale signs.

Energy expert Master Oh says that the following signals could suggest that you are stressed to an unhealthy extent.

  • Chronic tiredness

  • Weight or mood changes

  • Persistent cravings for very sweet or salty foods

  • Mental fog or confusion

  • Frequent illnesses such as getting lots of colds or bacterial infections and insomnia

What first steps can you take if you’re feeling overworked and stressed?

Dr Gee recommends starting with a cliché: manage your breathing.

'You may have heard it before but ‘take a deep breath’ – there is more to this than meets the eye.

Stress causes physiological changes which mean we take shorter, quicker breaths, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Deep, slow, purposeful breathing sends a signal to your brain to calm down.'

Deep breathing increases your blood oxygen levels, improving concentration, giving you a better chance of tackling the problem at hand.

What can we do when we recognise this stress is not healthy?

Just as there are many symptoms and manifestations of stress, there is also a range of solutions in feeling present and zen within yourself again.


Master Oh suggests to 'start as you mean to go on'.

'It is so important to begin your day with the right mind, one that is positive, calm and peaceful. Stress and negative thought patterns can create blockages in our energy system creating an imbalance as well as draining our energy.'

By meditating for 10-15 minutes a day Master Oh says this will calms the nervous system, reduces stress and helps us to recharge, enabling us to feel calm and peaceful.

It also gives us the clarity to observe any negativity we may have and rearrange our mind, 'helping us to start the day as we mean to go on'.

Create happiness via gratitude

'Express gratitude to others as well as reflecting on all the things you have to be grateful for,' advises Master Oh.

By expressing gratitude means to reflect on the things you do have, instead of things you don’t.

It’s also a reminder of looking at what you do know instead of trying to control the unknown, a common desire when you're stressed.

Sleep tight

Not only is sleep integral to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but the mental clarity, physical energy and emotional stability as well as increasing our performance at work will also relieve stress naturally.

'It also gives us greater resilience to illness and maintains hormonal balance, which all adds up to helping us live longer, healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives,' says Master Oh.

Any tips on combatting potential burnout?

Stress experts and authors of Physical Intelligence Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton suggest the below minor changes in your lifestyle, when it comes to warding off creeping burnout.

Don’t drink sweet or caffeinated drinks

'If you are feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed and your heart rate is already up or erratic, or if you are sleeping poorly, don’t drink caffeinated drinks – drink water or herbal tea instead.'

Follow the REST method

That stands for: retreat (take some time to yourself), eat (healthily), sleep and treat yourself (to something like a massage.)

Talk then let go

'If you’re dwelling on something, talk to someone you trust about it, then commit to letting it go'.

Another method is writing the issue out. If you prefer to put things down on paper, write your feelings on a page and then dispose of it as a way to move on.


'Smile at yourself in the mirror every morning. It boosts serotonin.'

Use Epsom salts

Especially in a bath, before bed. 'Minerals such as magnesium can help ease you off to sleep.'

Shake out your adrenaline

If you feel nerves building up, it’s recommended to not just sit there and feel all the feelings, however tempting that may be.

Move your position, walk and even shake out your legs and arms to disperse adrenalin.