The word stress is one that we all use in our day-to-day lives. Whether it’s to describe the feeling of forgetting to do the milk run or the hectic workweek ahead, stress is a natural response to just about any experience that causes change or challenges in our lives. Still, while we’re all familiar with the word, how do we actually know when we’re under stress?

Stress is something that affects a large number of us. In fact, according to the Gallup 2019 Global Emotions Poll, American’s are among the most stressed people in the world [1]. And while feeling stressed every now and then is common, feelings of consistent stress can affect both your physical and mental health which is why it’s important to know when you’re under stress. The five physical signs of stress in the body that you should know, include:

  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Exhaustion or trouble sleeping
  • Weakened immune system

Related article: Is Your Stress Hormone Running on Overdrive?

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What are five physical symptoms of stress?

Whether you have started a new job or you’re organizing a surprise party for your partner, there are a number of life events that can cause stress. When we encounter what we consider to be a stressful situation, our bodies produce stress hormones that trigger a fight or flight response. This stress response can help the body face these situations, and once this event is over, our stress hormones usually go back to normal.

However, if you’re constantly experiencing stressful situations, it can cause negative effects on both your physical and mental health. These are some of the physical effects of stress and common stress symptoms.


Also known as tension headaches, high-stress levels can trigger a dull, aching pain in your head that, according to Mayo Clinic, can feel like a tight band around your head [2]. Taking time to relax and leading a healthy lifestyle can help with stress management and in preventing tension headaches.

If you experience tension headaches regularly and they’re interfering with your everyday life, reach out to your doctor. Moreso if you notice any change in your headaches such as pattern or intensity, speak with a healthcare professional.

Hair loss

Chronic stress can be a trigger for a number of conditions that lead to hair loss, including telogen effluvium, which occurs when stress pushes your hair follicles into the resting phase, trichotillomania which is an urge to pull hair out from different parts of your body and alopecia areata which occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles.

Hair loss as a result of stress isn’t always lasting which is why it’s important to speak with a medical professional if you notice sudden hair loss or even hair loss that seems like more than usual.

Related article: Hair Falling Out? Here Are Four Health-Related Reasons Why

Increased heart rate

When we’re faced with a stressful event, our bodies release stress hormones, including adrenaline, which can temporarily cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. When your body is in ‘fight or flight’ mode over a long period of time, it’s considered chronic stress, which can lead to high blood pressure and increase your risk of other conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

Taking control of the stressors in your life and finding what works for you when it comes to managing stress will benefit both your physical and mental health. If you want to check in on your heart health, you can do so from home with LetsGetChecked’s Diabetes and Heart Test.

Related article: Diabetes and Heart Health: The Importance of Regular Heart Testing

Exhaustion or trouble sleeping

Maybe you had a hard day at work or maybe there’s an event coming up that you feel unprepared for, whatever it may be, sometimes it can be difficult to ‘switch off’ and get a good night’s sleep. However, if you’re constantly finding it difficult to fall asleep at night and feel tired or sleepy throughout the day, it might be a sign that you’re under stress. Speak with your doctor if your sleep patterns are affecting your day-to-day life.

Weakened immune system

According to the American Psychological Association, long-term stress can have a major impact on your immune system [3]. This can weaken your body’s immune response and put you at a higher risk of catching viruses such as the common cold.

Reducing stress levels and following a healthy, balanced diet is a great step to take towards a healthy immune system. To ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need, you can monitor your vitamin levels from home with LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home Vitamin Tests.

Related article: Can You Strengthen Your Immune System?

What happens to your body when you’re stressed?

When you are going through stressful life events or you find yourself in a stressful situation, your hypothalamus (a small area in the center of your brain) sets off what Mayo Clinic refers to as an ‘alarm system’ in your body. This alarm prompts your adrenal glands to release hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. This can increase your heart rate, boost energy and raise your blood pressure.

As mentioned above, if you constantly find yourself in a state of stress, these hormones will remain elevated which can result in chronic stress which can put you at risk of a number of complications such as muscle tension, chronic fatigue, and high blood pressure. Of course, there are a number of emotional symptoms too including depression and anxiety.

Each of these symptoms can be a sign of stress. If you are experiencing any of the above or you are concerned about your stress levels, make sure to speak with a professional who will be able to advise you of the best next steps for you.

Remember, there are so many relaxation techniques out there to help you reduce stress levels and manage stress, the most important step to take is to speak with someone you trust and find the right stress management techniques for you.

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  1. Gallup. Gallup 2019 Global Emotions Report. Online:
  2. Mayo Clinic. Tension Headache. Online:
  3. American Psychological Association. Stress Weakens the Immune System. Online: