8 Surprising Symptoms of Stress
Strange dreams, wicked cramps, and more ways your body is telling you to relax
Between the hectic schedule of holiday parties, trying to get all that work finished before your days off and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list (without totally breaking the bank), the holidays can quickly turn from a time of cheer to a six-week stress-a-thon.
Because there's hardly a minute to yourself in the next few weeks, you might not realize just how stretched to the max you truly are—until your body reaches a breaking point. And we don't mean just finding yourself reaching for your favorite comfort food, breaking out in hives, or crying at the drop of a hat, either. (Fun fact: Emotional tears contain stress hormones, so flushing them out of the body helps you feel better.)
While those are all typical signs of stress, the eight surprising signs below are things you might mistakenly chalk up to some other health problem or brush off as nothing to worry about. In reality, you might want to listen a little closer to what your body's trying to tell you—doing so can save your life. Chronic stress increases your risk for a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke and depression, to name a few. While chilling out is often easier said than done, there are a few simple relaxation strategies to keep in mind, such as breathing exercises, visualization exercises, and even spending time with a furry friend. Listening to music or reading a book can help, too.
As you're finding the relaxation trick that works for you, keep an eye out for these sneaky symptoms of stress.
"Unfortunately, the stress we deal with during the day tends to follow us to bed at night and plays out in our dreams," Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, author of Dream On It—Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life, told DoctorOz.com. Maybe you don't realize you're burning the candle at both ends until that dream comes back where you miss your bus or your house is on fire, two of the five most common stress dreams, according to Loewenberg.
However, these dreams might help you pinpoint what exactly is stressing you out and can help you work through why you're feeling that way.