Animals, including humans, evolved a stress response as a survival mechanism. Thanks to our natural fight-or-flight reaction, we can quickly evaluate a dangerous situation and react accordingly. Stress is often beneficial in that it helps us get through intense, emotional or frightening life events. Usually, this tension is short-lived, and most people can return to normal without any ill effects.
However, excessive stress can manifest in a host of symptoms such as chronic hypertension, disrupted sleep and digestive issues. Even when stress lurks below the level of conscious thought, it can still affect your mental and physical well-being. Here are some warning signs that you may be experiencing subconscious stress in ways that are more severe than you realize.
1. Trouble Sleeping
If you’ve ever spent a restless night lying awake because you can’t quiet your racing mind, you are probably all too familiar with stress-related insomnia. On the other side of the coin, you might fall asleep relatively easily, only to find yourself plagued with upsetting anxiety dreams. This category of nightmares may stem from your subconscious mind attempting to deal with stress and work through issues you haven’t addressed while you’re awake.
2. Difficulty Concentrating
Do you often start working on tasks, only to realize you can’t maintain your focus? Are you making careless mistakes or forgetting things all the time? If this applies to you, it could be a result of subconscious stress. Like a computer, your brain’s processing power has limitations, and you could be unconsciously juggling too many things at once.
3. A Change in Your Eating Habits
Subconscious stress could also change your relationship with food. You might instinctively reach for carb-heavy comfort foods like macaroni and cheese or indulgent desserts, or you could lose your appetite and start forgetting to eat at the usual times. Either way, take note of a dramatic shift in your eating habits, which are a red flag of chronic stress.
4. Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Prolonged stress can make you irritable. If you’re having problems getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep a night, you could be drowsy and lethargic during the day. Your low energy levels might cause you to skip regular workouts, thus making you less healthy overall. You may also feel inclined to drink or use drugs in a misguided attempt to keep negative emotions at bay and help you relax.
Ways to Deal With Subconscious Stress
Long-term stress doesn’t have to control your life. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to manage it, including through nutrition, exercise, meditation, yoga and massage therapy. If your burdens seem overwhelming, reach out to a professional counselor. Making time for these stress-busting self-care strategies may be at the bottom of your priority list when you feel anxious, but it will benefit your mental and physical health in the long run.
If you’re hurting yourself with self-destructive behavior like substance abuse, there’s still hope to heal and start a healthy, new phase in life. Vista Taos Renewal Center is an accredited, family-owned place to begin again. Take your first step toward discovering how rewarding lifelong sobriety can be by contacting us today.