Can you be stressed out and not feel stressed?

Can you be stressed and not feel stressed?

I think whatever warranty I had on my body has expired. I recently turned 35, and have developed two disturbing medical conditions. I think both of them could be related to stress, but really, I don’t feel that stressed out.

My medical conditions:

  1. Jaw Pain – I began experienced awful, sharp shooting pains in my jaw whenever I ate. I went to my dentist who told me I am grinding my teeth at night. He prescribed me muscle relaxers and told me to wear a mouth guard at night.

  2. Rash – I developed this awful, disgusting rash mostly on my lower legs. Bright red dots. They do not itch, but sometimes I feel a mild, burning sensation. But it is not painful. I went to my PCP, who basically shrugged, gave me a cream and told me she’d send me to a dermatologist if it came back/got worse. It has come back.

Did I mention these both first started happening on the same day?

Like I said, I really don’t feel that stressed out, but there are a few things going on in my life that could be potential stressors.

  1. My husband and I are trying to have a baby. Unsuccessfully so far, we have just started going through fertility treatments.

  2. I just got laid off. Hopefully temporarily, my boss said he hoped to bring me back in the spring when they got more funding. I only worked part time, and my husband makes good money, so financially we are still okay.

Like I said, I don’t really feel any differently than I did last year. Am I fooling myself? Do I need anti-anxiety meds, or should I just resolve to meditate and do yoga every day? What do you guys think?

Yeah, it sounds like you’re stressed out and you know it. Just because you aren’t having gut-clenching panic attacks doesn’t mean you aren’t stressed. For me, teeth-grinding is a sign that I need to lighten up about something–though I usually have to consciously search for what that thing is.

And yes, you do feel differently than you did a year ago. You are grinding your teeth and you have a rash!

Feeling stressed, as in having anxious emotions, is just one symptom of stress. It sounds like you could be having other stress symptoms without having the emotional component. As someone who suffers from a high level of anxiety, I can tell you that I sometimes have physical symptoms with no coinciding mental ones. I think it’s worth talking to your doctor about the stress you are experiencing (I know that infertility treatment can be a huge cause of stress, as is unemployment), and what steps you can take to resolve it.

Does that mean you are taking new medications? I would wonder if the rash might be a medication reaction.
TMJ disorders and tooth grinding are fairly common problems which may be aggravated by stress, but you are in the middle of the prime age group for women to develop TMJ, so it might just be a coincidence.

Yep. I am on meds to stop my heart from racing, because apparently that’s how my stress is manifesting itself now. It took my doctor and I ages to figure out why my heart was racing, and that it was stress, because I never thought in my MIND that I was stressed. But my body knew differently.

It used to be my jaw, but I had extensive work to get that fixed.

I am a great example of someone who suffered from incredibly high stress levels without knowing it. Incredible amounts of stress that my body just translated into jaw pain, racing heart, and crushing fatigue without my being aware that I was all stressed out.

Now, I’m able to tell I’m stressed out a little better.

Learning how to accept the way things are and deal with things as they come, as in go up when the water goes up, go down when the water goes down, will take a lot of stress out of your life. I don’t mean hide your head in the sand, quite the opposite really. It’s all about having a plan A, plan B, plan C, and so on. Figure out some options like branches on a tree and listen carefully to what choice your intuition is telling you to make, and go with that flow. Swimming against your own tide will get you nowhere. If you are stressed and there are no serious external factors (you aren’t starving, etc) then you are going against your own tide. Do you really want to have a baby RIGHT NOW? Maybe you want a little break before you start treatments. Do you really want to go back to THAT JOB? Maybe it’s not really what you want to do. Maybe it’s something else in your life. Only you can look inside and find out the answer.

You think that’s stressful, wait until it works!

Thanks for all the replies. I guess I am stressed out. It was driven home to me today when I was at the Dr.'s for the re-occurrence of the rash.

I asked if it could be related to stress. She said, “Sure, what do you have going on?” and (humiliatingly) I burst into tears. Great.

In the last few years, I’ve started developing a rash on my hands when I’m stressed. The last three times it happened were:

A trip to Disneyland
A vacation to Washington DC and New York
A weekend trip to the coast for a family reunion

In none of those cases did I feel like I was “stressed out”, but in each one my body was “under stress” due simply to the change in routine.

I’ll second (third, whatever) some of the physical symptoms above.

Sometimes it plays out like the Snicker’s commercials, without the candy. :frowning: “Hey Chimera, why are you so pissy lately?” “Oh. Yeah, guess I am feeling a bit stressed.”

And… tears are a good thing. A release of tension. Just don’t feel guilty and buy all that stress back in the process.

I have this same thing. Usually it’s a matter of noticing myself scratching my hands, saying, “Hey, I have a stress rash,” and then trying to figure out what it is that is stressing me out.

Sure. If the stress comes on gradually enough, you will accept it as “normal” the whole way. Like the frog in a pot of boiling water, you may not realize it until past the point of no return. Looking back in 5 years you’ll be like, duh–of course I was stressed out!

Your intellectual mind will try to rationalize nearly any set of circumstances, if you let it. I’ve found mindfulness meditation and full-body relaxation exercises to be helpful in identifying the difference between relaxed and stressed states. Introspection is helpful to a point, but again your brain will try to rationalize any/everything. Don’t get bogged down in overthinking.