We, humans, are complicated creatures capable of expressing thousands of emotions. This site shows you that anxiety and stress are common across the natural world, and animals have many ways of showing it. Unfortunately for us, humans can also be very good at hiding those emotions too, so it isn’t always possible to tell how a loved one or friend is feeling. Here are a few common signs that may suggest your friend is feeling more anxious or stressed than normal.
If you have noticed that small things seem to be bothering your friend more than usual, this could be a symptom of stress or anxiety. The Calm Clinic suggests that irritability is a common sign of anxiety and can cause people to unexpectedly get upset or even lash out. If your friend has displayed these symptoms, do not be afraid to quietly and sympathetically tell them you have noticed a difference in their behavior and ask if there is anything you can do to help. They may not have noticed the change yet themselves, so give them time and space if they need it to think about their behavior and any reasons that might be causing them to feel more irritable.
If your colleague at work is constantly reaching for the coffee, making silly mistakes, and looking exhausted, they may not be getting enough sleep. Anxiety and stress can throw off sleep patterns very quickly. According to Medical News Today, the link between stress and sleep deprivation is very common, with only 35% of Americans getting the correct amount of sleep. A lack of sleep can cause mental health problems to worsen and deepen, so sleep deprivation must be tackled. Again, this is a case of having a quiet word and asking if there is anything that keeps them up at night. If there is a worry often sharing it confidentially can help a friend to put things into perspective. Assure your friend that any discussions can be confidential, and you would only ever break confidentiality if you were worried they may harm themselves or others.
Our diet can fluctuate wildly due to stress and anxiety. Some people may overeat or reach for junk food over healthier options. Others swing the other way and may cut out food altogether. Of course, dietary changes are not always linked to mental health. Only raise the question with a friend if you feel the pattern has been sustained over a substantial period, and if you suspect stress or anxiety may be the trigger for the dietary shift. You can help someone by offering to cook meals or to share lunches with them. Even a few meals in a freezer that they can reach for when they don’t have the energy to cook can make a huge difference to someone’s overall well-being.
If your friend does let you know that they are feeling more anxious or stressed than usual, then reassure your friend that there are easy steps you can both take together which will help. Look online for expert advice and positive stories from those who have been in similar situations.
This is a collaborative post.