Dealing With The Physical Signs Of Stress

Woman sleeping at table resting her head on a pile of books: Dealing with the Physical Signs of Stress by Bodyshot Performance

The second part in our Stress Awareness Month series is all about physical symptoms. Last week, we discussed apathy and anhedonia: lacking motivation or ability to derive pleasure from something you once enjoyed. But stress doesn’t just change our behaviour, it can affect our bodies, too. So, let’s explore the physical signs of stress and learn how to take action and prevent burnout.

Identify & Act

When we become stressed, our bodies begin to send signals. And that always happens; it’s an instinctive hormonal response. However, we are either extremely good at ignoring them, or unaware of what they are. As a result, inability to identify or act on these signs means our bodies will resort to taking more extreme measures. Imagine it’s going to say, “Okay, you’ve not recognised the brain fog or the jumbled thoughts, so here’s some fatigue to slow you down.”. And that’s just one example of the physical signs of stress.

Physical Symptoms

It’s important to point out when I use the word ‘fatigue’, I’m not referring to circumstantial tiredness: you’ve had a late night or been travelling. Simply put, that is a consequence of having a late night or travelling. I mean a deep-seated tiredness that you can’t put down to a consequence, and have felt for some time. A general fatigue, heaviness, weight in the bones – whatever you might call it – could be a physical sign of stress. And this is your body’s way of telling you that you’re heading towards burnout, and need to recover. There are other unexplained aches and pains that could also be indicators of stress; for instance, headaches, low back pain and indigestion. And, if left untreated, these could lead to burnout or even more severe health problems. Read more about the physical symptoms here.

Burnout Prevention

The WHO defines burnout as a syndrome caused by excessive amounts of stress and failure to properly manage it. But in order to do so, we must be able to recognise the signs. Psychologists Gail North and Herbert Freudenberger define burnout in 12 stages. At Bodyshot, we took those 12 stages and created a helpful resource, the 12 Stages of Burnout

It’s so important to pay attention to the physical signs of stress, and prioritise deliberate rest. Take a look at what you’ve got going on, and think about how you are going to recover. We’ve shared a lot of tips on how to do this over the years, which you can access using the search bar. And remember, if you are feeling burned out or are suffering the effects of stress, you don’t have to go through it alone – please reach out to someone.

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Wellbeing Resources

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In the bestselling book Rise and ShineLeanne Spencer shares her expertise and experience to show you how to spot the signs of professional burnout, recover, and go on to enjoy a happier, healthier life and career. 

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