If you’re reading this, chances are high that you’ve been feeling stretched thin on multiple fronts lately (overflowing inbox? Check. Nightmare boss? Check. Family dramz? Check, check, check.) But while a little bit of stress is a given (espesh in the midst of a global pandemic) there are certain physical and emotional cues that warrant an immediate chill pill.

‘Stress is your body’s response to mental or emotional pressure, hormones and chemicals are released that prepare you for physical action – a fight or flight reaction – which can have very uncomfortable side effects,’ explains Dr Jo Gee.

While the severity of these symptoms vary from person to person, there are a few subtle signs you’re on a one-way ticket to burnout.

Chronic tiredness

It’s all too tempting to hit the snooze button 15 times when you’re recovering from a big weekend. But if you’re getting the recommended 7-8 hours of shut-eye per night and still feeling drained on the daily, there’s probably more at play.

Muscle pain

Ever noticed how your whole body tenses up when you watch a scary movie? Essentially, the same thing occurs with chronic stress. You see, stress alters our adrenaline and hormone levels which can impact the muscles and nerves, resulting in soreness or stiffness in the shoulders, back and neck. Not ideal.

Frequent illnesses

It’s an unfortunate fact, but it’s totally true: stress weakens the immune system and makes us vulnerable to catching any nasties going around (e.g. colds and bacterial infections.) What’s more? When we’re rundown, it’s harder for the body to fight off these illnesses. Meaning we’re sicker more often and for longer too.

Weight gain

Maybe too much caffeine is the culprit (this, btw, promotes insulin problems.) Maybe it’s that family-sized block of Cadbury Top Deck you’ve become emotionally dependent on (coz comfort food). But did you know that just thinking about a stressful event in the future can cause you to eat more by increasing your levels of ghrelin (aka, the ‘hunger hormone?’) Food for thought.