Between the hectic schedule of holiday parties, trying to get all that work finished before your days off and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list (without totally breaking the bank), the holidays can quickly turn from a time of cheer to a six-week stress-a-thon.
Because there's hardly a minute to yourself in the next few weeks, you might not realize just how stretched to the max you truly are -- until something happens to remind you.
We don't just mean you find yourself reaching for your favorite comfort food or breaking out in hives. And not feeling so frazzled you forget where you put the keys or cry at the drop of a hat, either. (Although, fun fact, there's a good reason that happens when you're stressed: Emotional tears contain stress hormones, thereby flushing them out of the body and helping you feel better.) Those are all legitimate signs you're stressed out -- but you probably already know that.
The eight surprising signs below are things you might mistakenly chalk up to some other health problem or brush off as nothing to worry about. In reality, you might want to listen a little closer to what your body's trying to tell you.
Doing so can save your life. Chronic stress increases your risk for a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke and depression, to name a few. While chilling out is often easier said than done, there are (thank goodness) a few simple relaxation strategies to keep in mind, like breathing exercises, visualization exercises and even spending time with a furry friend. Listening to music or reading a book can help, too.
While you're finding the relaxation trick that works for you, keep an eye out for these sneaky symptoms of stress.