3 Ways Your Body Tells You You’re Stressed — and What to Do About It

How to identify and respond to the signals you could be missing.

Fizkes/ Shutterstock
Fizkes/ Shutterstock

Many of us are dealing with multiple stressors right now, whether related to our work, our families, our health, or our ongoing to-do lists that continue to pile up. These sources of anxiety can manifest in our bodies, but we often ignore those signs and continue to power through. With so much going on, even pausing to listen to our bodies can feel like too much time to spare. 

But to get our stress under our control, it’s important to identify the physical symptoms we could be missing — and then create a plan to course-correct and better manage the stressors for good. Here are a few tips to help you get started, based on your stress signals:

If you feel tension in your jaw or shoulders… 

Take a few minutes to stretch in between Zoom calls. 

We tend to hold tension in our neck, jaw, and shoulder areas when we’re feeling stressed. And when we’re at our busiest, we might not think about taking some time to stretch and move during the day — especially if working from home. By taking two or three minutes to stretch your legs, move your jaw around, and do some arm and neck stretches in between meetings, you’ll start to relieve muscle tightness and release any tension that’s been building up. 

If you’re struggling to focus…

Write down one thing that’s worrying you before your workday begins. 

When we try to push our worries aside, they end up distracting us during the day, making it challenging to focus on the task in front of us. By addressing what’s making you anxious before you dive into your work, you can get your concern onto paper and keep it from creeping into your mind during calls and projects. 

If you’re tossing and turning at night…

Have a lighthearted conversation before bed. 

Many of us are attuned to scrolling through social media feeds and checking the news before hitting the pillow, but that sort of stimulation could be adding to your anxieties and keeping you from falling or staying asleep. Instead of staring at your screens until your eyes close, make an effort to call a friend or turn to your partner for a joyful conversation that takes your mind off of the stressors of the day. Simply sharing or hearing a funny story before bed can help you get the rest you need.

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