1. You wanna stay in bed foreverrrrrrrr.
Even the chillest girl has the occasional morning where she just doesn’t want to face the day. But if you’re repeatedly feeling too freakin’ drained to rip yourself from the covers (a crazy combo of physical exhaustion and emotional NOOOOO!), it’s time to take stock of the worries that may be weighing you down. “Stress is an energy-drainer, because it secretly sends all of your body systems into overdrive,” says Jane Pernotto Ehrman, M.Ed, a behavioral health specialist at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.
2. One catch with the *so tired* thing? You can’t actually sleep.
Another legit reason that stress is making you wake up feeling like death: You spent a good chunk of the previous night tossing/turning/wishing your brain would just TURN OFF ALREADY. “I call it ‘wired and tired,'” explains Lucie Hemmen, Ph.D, a psychologist in Santa Cruz, CA. “Practice bumps back homework, which bumps back bedtime – and by the time you’re ready to go to sleep, you’ve pushed yourself past the point of exhaustion.” Real talk: That wired feeling may be a sign that sneaky stress hormones are pumping through your body at unhealthy levels, just to help you survive your ridic day. And when you’re experiencing that crap-night-of-sleep cycle on repeat? It’s maybe time to give your schedule some breathing room.
3. You’re legit sick, like, every other day.
When you’re in high-stress mode, your immune system can be suppressed up to 30% – making you more likely to catch every single cold or flu that’s circulating around your school. So if you’ve already taken 8 gazillion sick days this year, it could be a signal that you’re overwhelmed.
4. Wait … where did you put your phone/keys/brain-that-works?
Here’s the funny thing: A tiny jolt of stress in some situations (like getting called up to present your project in class) can make your mind do totally amazing, somewhat super-human things (like recalling a random fact about photosynthesis when your teacher asked you #KilledIt). But when every project, paper, practice, etc., etc., etc. is weighing on you to the point where you just feel stuck? Your memory goes fuzzy, your focus becomes non-existent, and your ability to actually listen gets squashed. It’s like stress hijacks your brain.
5. Your head feels all sorts of tight and/or explode-y.
OK, think about the last time someone spooked you: Your shoulders instantly scrunched up, right? And your neck muscles tightened? Well, that response to danger actually dates way back to caveman days: “It’s an animal instinct to protect the jugular,” says Ehrman. But the tricky part is, your brain can’t distinguish between an approaching tiger (HELLLLP!) and that vague I-have-a-million-tests-this-week-make-it-stop feeling. And if you’re not paying attention, you may be walking around in constant *high alert* mode. “All of that tension travels up the back of the neck, causing blood vessels to swell and press on brain tissue,” explains Ehrman. To counter-act this stress-induced stiffness and the headaches it causes, try this trick: A few times a day, you can sit up straight, take a nice deep breath, put your chin to your chest, and roll your head all the way to the left (ahhh)…then back to the right (yup, so much better!).
6. Those X-rated thoughts about your bae? Gone 🙁
Remember how you used to daydream about making out with your GF or a shirtless Harry Styles every two secs? It doesn’t happen to everyone, but some girls feel a loss of sexual-feels when they’re secretly overwhelmed by school pressure, family probs, money worries … you know, LIFE. (Don’t get too worked up. The urge will come back. Promise! Something as simple as exercise could help relieve your stress.)
7. Everything (*sniffle*) makes you emotional (*SOBSSSS.*)
Everyone has days where a random sloth video on YouTube makes you cry. But if you’re walking this Earth like a timebomb of intense feels, snapping when your bae makes a dumb joke or getting extra annoyed at a teammate, something might be out. Like those times when you chill out afterward and think, Yikes. Who WAS that person? “When you’re super-stressed, the brain stem – the primitive part of your brain – takes over, and the part that anticipates outcomes goes dark,” says Hemmen. So what does that mean?! Think of it this way: Stress shuts down your filter AND turns up your tendency to act on instinct … making your inner rage-beast bubble up in interactions where you’d normally feel fine.
8. Your tummy does weird things on the regs. #awkward
Maybe it’s gas or stomach aches or too much/not enough bathroom time that’s got you down – it doesn’t matter, because it’s THE. WORST. And it’s all stuff that could be caused by sneaky feelings of pressure or worry or dread, says le research. “We have brain cells scattered in every organ system,” explains Ehrman. “And for some people, their nervous energy goes straight to their gut.” In fact, some experts even call your gut a “mini-brain” (wut) because it holds so many neurotransmitters. They’re still figuring out exactly how stress hormones wreak their havoc, but they DO know that there’s a definite link.
9. Sometimes, it’s like you forget to breathe…
You’re sitting there in class and you get a mediocre test grade. All of a sudden you’re convinced that you’ll never get into college and that your future is over. Your emotions can spiral out so fast that you actually feel light-headed, or slightly tingly, or straight-up shaky. So what’s up with that? Sometimes – when you’re all worked up – you literally hold your breath to keep the tears down and/or the emotion in. And it’s not something you should ignore. “Research has shown that there is no such thing as a spontaneous panic attack,” says Ehrman. “Holding your breath, rapid breathing, a little dizziness – these can and will get worse over time.”
So What Can You Do About It?
First off: Make sure to get enough rest and ~breathe~ (deeply! often!). “It’s important to create space in your day for your brain and body to be in a state of calm,” Ehrman explains. “That keeps the stress from piling up.” Aside from catching all of the 😴😴😴 you can, building in five-minute brain breaks every day – where you sit and count your breaths or picture yourself in your happy place – will help, too. (Try it on the bus to an away game or instead of starting your homework at the end of class.) And if the symptoms of stress – and that sense of being SO overwhelmed – don’t let up, talk to an adult you can get real with, whether that’s your mom or a school counselor or your doc. They can help you figure out a plan to lighten your load and deal with the pressure you’re feeling.