Stress is a part of life, and there's not much anyone can do about it. Given that some people tend to glamorize how busy they are, with family obligations, work responsibilities,time with friends, running errands, and everything else people need to do each day — it makes sense that many people experience stress on a very regular basis. In college, between a rigorous course load and lots of on-campus involvement, I basically lived in a state of perpetual stress. There are, however, little habits you didn't realize could be signs of stress, which means it's possible you're more stressed than you even knew.
Being able to recognize that you're stressed, even if you don't think you are, is important in terms of managing that stress and minimizing unnecessary stressors. It might seem like no big deal, but stress can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. According to the American Psychological Association, the longer you're stressed, the worse it is for you. Addressing the stress in your life as soon as you can can help keep you healthier or make any existing problems worse. Looking out for the little, subtle habits of stress might be a good place to start.
Mindlessly fidgeting—with your hair, the things on your desk, or anything else you can get your hands on—might mean that you're a little bit stressed. In an e-mail exchange with Romper, therapist Dr. Thai-An Truong, said fidgeting, such as when you roll a pen around in your hands, can indicate that all is not well.
Sighing can mean an awful lot of things, but, apparently, it can also mean that you've got too much on your plate. As licensed massage therapist Kathy Gruver tells Romper by email, repeated sighing can be a sign of stress.
3. Thinking In Black And White
During normal times, when you're not quite as stressed, you have the ability to recognize that life is full of shades of gray. "When we're stressed, however, all that impressive cognitive ability gives way to a much simpler way of thinking; things become all good or all bad, all up or all down, all helpful or all useless," Victoria Mlynko, a work stress expert, says in an email to Romper. "Unfortunately, this kind of thinking tends to reinforce stress, rather than help it." If you start to get this way, take a step back and reevaluate.
4. Compulsive Snacking
Some people always like to snack, while others eat more or less based on how they're feeling. In an email exchange with Romper, sociologist and founder of ESME.com, Dr. Marika Lindholm says that compulsive snacking can be a sign of stress that might be obvious, but could also be more subtle.
5. Taking The Blame For Everything
In an email to Romper, licensed counselor and psychotherapist Bruce Cameron says taking the blame for everything that goes wrong while you're stressed is subtle hint that you're dealing with more than just bad luck. If you find yourself pinning the blame on you each and every time, ask yourself if that's really the case or if something else is going on.
6. Tapping Your Feet
Tapping your foot or bouncing your legs are outward manifestations of what's going on inside. Cameron says these are both signs that you might be a little bit stressed and not even realize it.
7. Trying To Control Everything
In an email exchange with Romper, therapist Kimberly Hershenson says that trying to control whatever you can is a way that you're subtly trying to cope with your stress. "The truth is we have no control over certain things in life," she says. "Practice acceptance. Make a list of what you can control in the situation causing you stress and what you can't control." Then, there might be a few things that you just need to let go.