A little stress is to be expected every now and then, but too much can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health. So how do you know if your stress level has gone from “all systems normal” to “Houston, we’ve got a problem”? Everybody reacts to stress a little differently, but there are a few warning signs you can look out for:
1. You grind your teeth at night. Maybe you notice that you’ve been waking up with headaches, jaw pain, or even a chipped tooth. All of these point to middle-of-the-night teeth grinding, which can be caused by stress.
2. You’re getting tension headaches. This is the most common type of headache, and the top trigger for it is—you guessed it!—stress. You’ll know you’re experiencing a tension headache if you feel a dull pain or pressure that goes across your forehead.
3. You have heartburn or other GI issues. There is a strong connection between your brain and your gut, which is why too much stress has been linked to digestive problems. One reason why: When you’re stressed, your body slows down digestion so it’s not wasting energy breaking down food when it needs to be focused on what’s stressing you out. This can be helpful if you need to run away from a mountain lion, but not so good when you’re just feeling stressed about a big work project.
4. You’re having trouble sleeping. Think about a time you were really stressed out. Could you easily fall asleep? Chances are, the answer is no. Stress can lead to insomnia by making it tough for you to relax and wind down at the end of the day.
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