Signs of stress

I can always tell my level of work stress. All I have to do is look at my fingernails and cuticles. The more stress, the more chewed up are my nails and nail beds.

I have been an inveterate nail chewer since early childhood. I decided when I was very young that I hated my mother clipping my nails, and I started chewing them off. It is sort of like our cats, who hate nail trims (Don’t squeeze my paws!) I think it might have been a sensory issue for me, too, because I am only comfortable with the shortest of fingernails and toe nails.

I was appaled last week to read about the woman with the world’s longest nails. She finally got them cut when their collective length was something like 28 feet. I can’t imagine how a person could even function.

I haven’t bought nail polish for decades. I have no interest in stopping my nail chewing, but I am interested in stress reduction. I have three more years to get through for my job, and I need to be a good role model for positive coping.

How can you tell you are under stress. What is stressing you these days? What do you do to de-stress and relax?

38 thoughts on “Signs of stress”

  1. Migraine.
    My peripheral vision will get cloudy and a headache comes in about 15 minutes. That gives me the window of opportunity to lay down in a darkened room with a cool forehead compress.
    Too much news stresses me.
    I too am a fingernail biter. NDSU put on a fingernail biting clinic. Participants gave their thoughts about how successful they would be in breaking the habit using various techniques. I fingered…er…figured I would do well keeping a log. Didn’t work. Of course, the whole thing was a psychology student’s study of human behavior. I hope she/he earned a doctorate.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. The only way a psychologist friend stopped chewing her nails was getting braces on her teeth. I don’t think I want to go to such a length to stop chewing mine.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. I think of myself as someone who doesn’t who doesn’t experience much stress—not, at least, the sort of stress that impacts your health and darkens your outlook. But stress can be sneaky and sometimes your body tells you otherwise.

    When we were going to get married, the wedding we planned was about as stress-free as could be imagined. Robin’s Dad was going to marry us. He was a college professor but had been a minister. The wedding was outdoors and the reception was in Robin’s parents’ back yard. It was a morning reception with coffee and cake and fresh fruit. Robin sewed her wedding dress. I felt relaxed and happy as I anticipated the event, with no qualms whatsoever. But the week of the wedding I broke out in hives.

    I’ve told this before. Twenty-five years ago, I had a pain in my lower back. I tried various stretching exercises and I went to a chiropractor but nothing helped. Rising from a chair or getting out of a car, it would take me a few minutes before I could straighten up fully.
    At my job at the time, the company had been sold and the new employer had no idea what any of the employees individually did or were supposed to do. I was a fairly senior member but my responsibilities had been progressively diminishing. I sensed I was being edged out but with 13 weeks of severance accrued, I was not about to quit. I had actually been preparing to leave and had equipped a home office in anticipation. One day I was called into a meeting along with 34 other employees and we were informed we were being let go. That day my backache went away and never returned.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. I’ve been working from home. Curfews don’t really affect me all that much, since I don’t have late evening plans. So while I feel saddened, I am pretty distanced from the stress of this latest unrest.

      Liked by 6 people

  3. Like Bill, I try to live without stress. With all my health issues, stress is a luxury I can ill afford, so I endeavor to avoid it or (more realistically) to minimize its presence in my life.

    One seductive strategy is to dwell in the past. My future is daunting or worse. My status in present time is not much better. My past is almost totally welcoming and safe, so it is difficult to deny myself when I want to return to the past because the present and future look especially scary.

    Another simple strategy is careful use of my daughter. She represents a unique collection of strengths, weaknesses, hopes and fears. Some things that terrify me are totally comfortable for her. Thus I can lean on her for some issues that are difficult for me but easy for her.

    Liked by 7 people

      1. The skillet is flattered that you remembered it is MIA. But, no, it hasn’t shown itself yet. Since my daughter left off a big serving of my favorite meal, Indian butter chicken, I have recently concentrated more on eating and less on chasing wayward skillets. Maybe this weekend I’ll organize a posse and hunt that appliance down.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. There’s your personal past and then there is history in general. When reading history, one can often find close parallels with current events. The (usually) reassuring thing about those events in the past is that you know how they turned out.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That works for me with personal history too, Bill. Some things in my past were were painful and scary, but I dealt with them one way or another. Some truly painful past events never really “go away.” Yet it is possible to make peace with them, and I think I have.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Morning –
    A few years ago there was a person at the college stressing me out. I was getting sores in my mouth.
    I get pimples on my thighs when really stressed.
    Not to mention just a general sense of anxiety… heck, had that for the last 12 months… Covid. tRump, classes I was taking… it all added up.

    A more subtle thing is that I’ll notice I’m not whistling so much. If I park the car and whistle as I’m walking into the house I know things are OK.
    At some point I’ll notice I haven’t whistled lately…

    Liked by 6 people

  5. I’m like Renee in that I take it out on my cuticles – I notice in Zoom meetings I am sometimes picking at any rough spot around my fingernails. The dry air of winter exacerbates it, so things are better in summer when my skin gets smooth and there aren’t the rough spots to pick at.

    I also hold a lot of tension in my upper back around the shoulder blades. And last time my nephew (we have a complicated relationship) visited here, my arthritis in that basal thumb joint flared up for a week or so. I have a “splint” that I put over my teeth at night to keep the grinding from wearing them down more than they already are.

    I’ve joined a zoom meditation group on Tuesdays when I can – starts at 12:15, so be back later.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I am a stress eater (though I know I am well and truly stressed when I don’t want to eat). Also carry stress in my shoulders – which has been exacerbated in the last year by less than ideal ergonomics of how I am working and more time sitting in general. If i started to list the things that have been causing stress lately, well, where to begin… until recently I have mostly been able to keep life in perspective, to find outlets for the stress, to not just feel it lurking. But pandemic, politics, events in my city, a kid who has her own set of stresses that I am parenting, doing that parenting now solo… I have not been the sea of calm I once managed to be. Some days are good, some weeks are good – I take the good when and how I can. And when I can’t, well, there’s ice cream. Or my electric shiatsu massager. And stubborn optimism.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ice cream and stubborn optimism. Good.
      I bought one of those shoulder massager things that you wrap around your neck and put your arms though it. I like it, but it doesn’t work for Kelly. She gets stress in her shoulders too. Looking at the wand type, deep tissue ones for her maybe.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Stubborn optimism is a wonderful attribute to be blessed with. I consider myself very lucky that way, too. That said, there are times when it really takes a concerted effort to see light at the end of the tunnel. Now is one of those times for me, just so much crap going on, and there seems no end to it.

      Ann Reed delivered nineteen minutes of respite this morning in the form of a mini concert of healing songs. It’s available on FB for those of you who have access.

      Liked by 6 people

    3. When I first read “I am a stress eater” I wanted to volunteer bringing you more stress to gobble up. Then I realized what you meant.

      Imagining my own preferred stress diet, I envision really good tortilla chips, hot fresh salsa, and a steady supply of margaritas.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. These days whatever stress I experience is manageable. But as Bill described above, even when you’re not feeling stressed out, your body has a way of letting you know when things are out of kilter.

    When I was still working, one strategy for dealing with stress was to get a massage every three weeks. I thought of it as preventive maintenance and not as a luxury. I haven’t had a massage in over a year, and I’m way overdue for one. I tend to carry stress in my shoulders and lower back, and a good massage therapist can work wonders in releasing it.
    Simple stretching exercises help, too.

    I used to get stress headaches a lot, even as a little kid, thankfully I’m no longer plagued by those. Insomnia is another sure sign that I’m fretting about something or other, a couple of simple yoga exercises and making sure I don’t skip my daily meditation are really helpful.

    One thing that I’m increasingly aware of, though, is that a lot of the aches and pains I currently have are chronic and not apt to get better, and while stress may have been a contributing factor at some point, most of it is just wear and tear on an old body that I treated with carefree abandon for too many years. As my old boss, Mr. Armstrong, used to say: “Too soon old, too late schmart.”

    Liked by 6 people

  8. The worlds conversations wired,
    voices in my head like thrusting rain dyes away-

    madness’ someone wept

    for me my; I love

    bid awaiting;

    ” you don’t know her ” they complain

    just keep safe for the night

    words tense time… pain

    my hearts too full-

    vain concord late this evening-

    core haunting

    jolting down more then 204,

    ” lust ” relation monsters

    shadows casts beauty: vulger n’ dingy

    pawn switch

    swollen sores ache at my ft

    frantic little one..,

    thou so

    break encourage urging

    midnight n’ decaf; strength: laughter what yet too find…

    ocean floors painting flooding beat

    envious kindred..


      1. Peaky Blinders.

        Bittersweet confusion hear again { treasuring both lites, cloud of mist } among headlines echo… {back in my day, mate.. juveniles ran the streets of geniside & slavery 2030- cheeky naughty RIP

        The worlds conversations wired,

        voices in my head like thrusting rain dyes away-

        re-born new born wee one {baby}

        Queen of my heart soon risen she may, elegent { welcome portrays McCrory } sarcastic joking poured. Bless her – Honouring worldly { Yea! Holla back at cha –

        (born May 25, 1976) is an Irish actor who portrays in the BBC TV series

        a gob of Gealic hidden means, antisemitism??

        cherry tree..

        sarcastic joking poured. Bless her – Honouring worldly :

        -Fumm3 Midi Aqua Pleuve- Dec. Sat.. 2020

        Tell me: Don’t,

        Loved the closing lines of the verse and I quote: ” .” vivid painted 6am lovely dream


        Open document settings
        Open publish panel


  9. When I feel stressed I lose stuff and I lock my keys in the car. Once in 2004, when I started my private practice, I left it running for an hour with the keys locked in there. I had to call someone to break in to my own car for me.

    Today I returned to work after being on vacation for two weeks, but out of the office for 5 months due to Covid and being in AZ for three months. It was stressful. I lost my iPad and the Gizmo that hardwired my computer into the office ether etc.I felt like I was swimming through dense fog all day. AHHHH. I will adjust. Someday.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I think I handle stress fairly well but sometimes stuff piles up and often I don’t sleep well. My crafting really helps me at times like these. Or cooking. I am up to my elbows in Solstice crafts these days so am feeling pretty relaxed. ( Except of course for this week’s atrocity….I’m completely insane about this.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. How do even begin to make sense of it? I know I can’t. How do we make this craziness stop? I feel like I’m living in a tinderbox that can blow at any moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. When I’m stressed it helps to put some music on, or listen to an audiobook, and take a vacation from my own thoughts for a little while. Going for a long walk helps too.

    I saw a picture of the woman with the fingernails, and it was pretty creepy looking.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Does this woman have a job, and if she does, what is it? In my mind, long nails tend to curve and become claw-like. Even the idea of scratching myself with nails like that is revolting. Ick.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Diary of a woman with twenty feet of fingernails

    Dear Diary,

    Got up this morning and begged my daughter to make coffee for me, since I can’t make it myself because of my fingernails. Drank the coffee through a straw, along with a breakfast of Ensure. I like breakfast that you can drink through a straw, because of the fingernails.

    Went to the salon and paid to have someone wash my hair. I can’t wash my own hair because of my fingernails.

    Came home and nagged my husband to do the dishes, which I cannot do, or course, because, fingernails.

    Had lunch with a friend. It was delightful! We had soup and iced tea, and I asked the server for an extra straw for my soup. My friend even buttered a roll for me.

    Came home and saw that there was some mail for me. I waited till my daughter came home so she could open the envelopes.

    This evening a group of friends invited me to go bowling with them. I watched.

    Tried to pet the cat this evening, but my fingernails got tangled in his fur and he got frightened and hid from me.

    What a day! Tomorrow I have my karate lesson.


    1. The whole idea of such long nails is revolting to me. How do you comb your hair, wash your face, wipe your butt, drive a car, or button some buttons (don’t even think of sewing some on)? Something is seriously wrong with this mindset.


  13. i am a head case
    i bury my stress and think i’m good
    i’m not
    when my heart went whacky a while back my daughter got a pulse reader
    the thing that calmed me down was farmville
    i found that eye opening
    my current job in shipping at target for others and delivering food from restaurants allows me to make money while getting lost in task
    tonight i found myself driving around downtown minneapolis with all the buildings boarded up. it felt like we all know the city has to show the world how it’s to be done. the kid in brooklyn park is a shame but a lesson in how we as a community react and respond
    my future is always 3 steps ahead and i am on a mission to get there
    never a loss for direction
    i have anxiety held in neck shoulders low back recently in hips and feet
    body is an amazing receptor
    fingernails were never an issue
    i played classical guitar and you need nails on your right hand and not on your left
    when i quit smoking i found oral fixation on trimming my nails and decided it’s ok
    fair trade for smoking three packs a day for 35 years
    i have a great chiropractor that does enough massage to keep me from missing my old deep tissue work
    a bath is my go to relaxer
    and a podcast or book on tape or pandora session on my music list are good too


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