In most cases we tend to ignore all the warning signs of stress. Soon it becomes part of our daily lives and we do not even notice if we are stressed. At times, it becomes our usual state of being. This leads to a slow and steady deterioration in the body, like very slow poison.
This process starts early in life when we think nothing can happen to us. It starts with teenage years and goes on till adulthood. Suddenly, we get problems (even if we are exercising) and then wonder why have we got diseases or fall ill. However, we are unable to connect stress building up over the years with our health conditions.
This process is called ‘creeping stress’. It goes on for month and years and also manifests as behavioral or lifestyle issues. It becomes part of our normal life and this is the danger. The body is continuously stressed but we think there is nothing wrong with us.
The symptoms of instant and serious stress are easily noticeable. However, the symptoms of slowly creeping and prolonged stress are less visible. In fact, an individual may not even realize that he or she is undergoing prolonged periods of stress because they get so used to it that it even becomes a ‘comfort zone’ for them. This can go on for months or years and suddenly one wonders why were they afflicted with some disease even though they had an apparently normal or healthy lifestyle.
The symptoms are easy to spot if one is always aware of even the minor changes in one’s body, thoughts, eating patterns, emotions or behavior. We miss these because a lot of times we ignore these changes or signs or go into denial or ignoring mode.
SIGNS OF CREEPING STRESS
There are many signs of slow, prolonged or creeping stress. It is just that we are not aware what these signs are. Some of the signs are actually perceived to be good or normal. Let us look at some of the lesser known signs of creeping stress:
- The desire to have just that little more alcohol at times or party more or binge drinking because we are young, are making more money or under the garb of socializing.
- A gradual reduction in sleep or phases where we get less sleep.
- Increase in beverages like tea (including green tea), coffee or soft drinks.
- Getting just a little more irritable or angry and justifying it to yourself by saying it is due to colleagues or work, etc.
- A greatly increased or reduced sex drive.
- A constant desire to look for entertainment, go on holidays and inability to stay peacefully with yourself.
- Thinking or brooding a lot.
- Being bored when alone and continuously trying to be engaged with social media, etc.
- A drive for ‘perfectionism’ and having ‘high standards’ are another sign of creeping stress. Anyone driving themselves or others on this path is causing stress to everyone concerned.
- Anything adverse or different from what you were (or what you were doing before) and what you are now (or doing now) are indicators of chronic and creeping stress.