Problems may not be best solved by avoiding them in the first place. Leave the bar before a fight, apologize before she cries, sneak out before they pass the collection plate. But there’s one problem you can’t avoid, simply because you can’t see it. It’s invisible and it’s the stress. True that stress does make itself known in a number of explicit ways but by the time you notice it, it’s often too late to do anything. By then you’ve already snapped at your boss or yelled at your girlfriend or both. You can avoid all of that if you spot stress before it grows real claws. By spotting these hidden signs of growing anxiety, you’ll be able to cut the tension before it cuts you. To make your life simpler, easier and better we bring you the 7 symptoms of stress that you may have missed.
YOUR BICEPS ARE SORE, THOUGH YOU HAVEN’T WORKED OUT
When you’re stressed, certain hormones, such as adrenaline (epinephrine), tighten all your muscles not just those in your neck and shoulders, which are the ones we normally associate with stress. When your muscles remain tense for extended periods of time, you feel soreness.
What to do about it: Flex. Tighten and contract your muscles, starting with your calves and moving up to your shoulders and neck. The contracting and relaxing should help relieve soreness. If you’re in a jam at work, try squeezing your thumb and index finger together. This move won’t solve any problems, but it may ease your tension enough to let you figure out what has you so stressed.
YOU SLEEP 8 HOURS A NIGHT BUT STILL FEEL TIRED
Getting enough sleep doesn’t mean you’re getting enough rest. Stress keeps your mind wide awake and unable to relax, even While you’re sleeping. That’s because it prevents you from attaining your most restful state during sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy even after a full night in bed.
What to do about it: Get hot. A shower or hot bath before bed will raise your body’s temperature. Your temperature will then fall faster when you crawl into bed, so you’ll have a deeper sleep. Soak for 30 minutes for maximum effectiveness, and don’t eat anything afterward. Your body won’t rest for the first half of the night if it’s trying to digest food.
YOU’VE LOST YOUR DESIRE TO MASTURBATE
A loss of libido—especially quickie, on-your-own-time libido—could be a psycho-logical reaction to stress. “When you’re subconsciously worried about other things, you don’t have the desire to seek out pleasure  in any form. Oddly, it’s when you’re stressed out that sex is needed most—it’s one of the body’s best methods of releasing endorphins and reducing tension.
What to do about it: Give your body what it needs, even if doing so takes a little effort. “Creating a fantasy in your mind when it’s not possible to act on it builds up stimulation throughout the day. In other words, think about sex when you’re at work. That builds up sexual tension, so when you arrive home, the urge will be strong enough to overpower any stress that was initially blocking its path. Then find your partner or a Spanish soap opera.
YOU BOUNCED TWO CHECKS LAST MONTH
Stress can affect your concentration, and it can also make you clumsy, lazy, and all-around cement-headed. Stress often manifests itself in mathematical mistakes or transposition of numbers. If you’re making more mistakes than usual, don’t worry. You’re not getting dumber, you’re probably not developing Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s not the beer, either. It’s your brain telling you to slow down.
What to do about it: As soon as you receive a work assignment, make a schedule. “One of the biggest reasons people make mistakes at work is that they procrastinate, then work too quickly. You learned this hazardous practice in college (it was called cramming), and back then it worked out fine. But that was when you were 18, when staying up all night eating pizza and reading Balzac was kind of fun. You’re a grown-up now. Buy a day planner.
YOU GO THROUGH A PACK OF GUM EVERY MORNING
Fingernail-biting and foot-tapping may be the tell tale habits of anxious men, but any kind of repetitive motion—chewing gum, biting your pen, picking your nose—is your body’s subconscious way of trying to relax. What to do about it: Your body wants repetition? Give it repetition. Go to a driving range, shoot 100 free throws, or climb some stairs. Activities that involve repetition relieve tension better than those that require more varied activities—a round of golf or a game of one-on-one. The repetition relaxes your body, stops the production of stress-causing hormones, and returns your body to normal.
YOU IGNORE YOUR HOBBIES
When you’re stressed, it’s completely normal and sensible to spend most of your time focused on what’s causing the stress. But what if that’s at the expense of activities that might actually help you relax? Handling all the perceived negatives in your life leaves little room for interacting with people or enjoying outside activities.
What to do about it: Free up time by doing jobs once and only once. The biggest waste of time in people’s lives is re-tracing steps. If you have to go to the barber, pick up dry cleaning, and hit the store, do it all in one trip. This keeps you from repeating routes and wasting time. At work, do the same. Break projects down to their simplest components and move from one step to the next, or you’ll simply repeat the steps you’ve already completed. This leaves room to return to your favorite hobby, whether it’s playing poker, shooting pool, or robbing convenience stores.
YOU WATCH TV MORE AND READ LESS
Television requires little of what reading demands: concentration. Stress hinders your ability to focus, so it’s no wonder you’re watching other people do things in-stead of doing something yourself. Staring passively at images is much more soothing than processing words, and when your mind is taxed, it needs to relax. So you’ll watch anything, even cooking shows.
What to do about it: We’re not going to knock television. TV, in our opinion, is one of the greatest stress-reducers known to man, second only to skeet shooting. But at some point you have to ask yourself whether you’re watching TV to relax or to escape some nagging anxiety. If it’s the latter, forcing yourself to read your usual novels instead of staring at the tube won’t do you any good. You’ll only have a harder time concentrating because you’ll be distracted. You need to rebuild your concentration levels. Instead of tackling Tolstoy, start with something simple, like newspaper articles or autobiographies of pro athletes.
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