The Betterment Project

Internal Stress: How Does It Manifest Externally?

Stress is part of life. Most of us deal with stress regularly. Stress can play a vital role in helping us to make decisions and preparing us for different situations.

When stress becomes a consistent or unrelenting force in your life, it can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health.

Where Does Stress Come From? 

Stress is a physical response to changes and challenges we face. These changes and challenges are factors to our stress called stressors. 

Stressors can come from a variety of sources. For example, you may feel stressed or anxious over an upcoming test or job interview. 

You may feel stress over your financial situation or a significant life event like a wedding or childbirth. These stressors all have one thing in common. They’re external stressors. 

In the same way that stress can come from outside yourself, you can also have internal stress. There are many types of stress, but let’s explore internal stress.

What Is Internal Stress?

One of the intriguing aspects of stress is how different it can be for each person. What causes stress and anxious feelings to rise up in one person may not elicit that response in another person. One area where this difference is clear is when the stress takes the form of Internal stress. 

Internal stress, as you can probably deduce, comes from inside ourselves. This stress is born from our thoughts and behaviors. Your thoughts come from who you are as a person. Factors like your personal expectations and psychological mindset play a part in what creates your internal stress.

Fears, personal expectations, and worries can all be examples of internal stress. It may be difficult for others to understand your internal stressors, and they might be challenging to explain. External stressors can contribute to internal stress as well.

Whether your stress is internal or external, it manifests in the same physical and psychological ways.

How Does Internal Stress Manifest Externally? 

You may feel internal stress inside yourself, but you can also experience telltale signs externally that you are experiencing stress. 

Knowing how stress manifests externally can help you identify when you need to stop to relax and de-stress, but it can also help you identify when others in your life need a chance to relax. Here are some external manifestations of your internal stress.

1 - Trouble Sleeping 

When you are stressed, it may become difficult to sleep. Stress can cause us to have racing thoughts or worry that keeps us awake at night. Lack of sleep can actually cause us to feel more distressed, and a vicious cycle can emerge of worry and an inability to sleep.

2 - Changes In Appetite 

Stress reacts differently with different people. For some, stress can cause a loss of appetite. For others, stress can prompt you to seek out comfort and energy from food. This change in appetite is why unintentional weight changes, whether loss or gain, can signify stress.

If you’re familiar with your stress response, you may already know how you react. Unfortunately, when you’re in the midst of stress, you may not realize that you’ve had a change in appetite. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a check on yourself regularly in times of crisis and peace.

3 - Loss of Interest 

When we experience internal stress, sometimes it can cause us to lose interest in daily activities, even activities we typically enjoy. You may not realize that you have lost interest. It may seem that you just simply don’t want to do something, but others in your life may notice before you do.

For example, playing an instrument or a video game as an enjoyable activity regularly, and you suddenly lose interest in that activity. That may be a sign that internal stress is affecting you. It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t have time, but our enjoyable activities are an essential part of our mental health.

You may also feel the need to avoid certain situations. Withdrawing from activities with others and avoidance are not uncommon when people feel the pressures of internal stress. Our brains tend to downshift when times are difficult. We default to whatever is easiest. If you’re worried about an event, even if you want to participate, it’s an easy solution for the brain that you just don’t go if you’re worried about it. Problem solved, right?


4 - Changes in Mood 

Stress affects the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol are associated with mood swings, and prolonged stress without de-stressing can contribute to high levels of this hormone.  

5 - Physical Pains 

Stress is the feeling of tension in response to challenges and changes. That tension can affect the body. Muscles stay ready to fight or flee when you feel stress, even if the stress comes from within. This ready state can cause muscles to experience pains and aches. Unexplained aches and pains may have an explanation, after all.

Internal stress can also cause headaches and digestive pains, or distress. If these are uncommon for you, you may need to find a way to give yourself a break. Of course, you shouldn’t ignore new developments in your body. You may need to talk with your physician if you notice the development of new, concerning ailments.

What Can You Do About Your Internal Stress? 

How you manage internal stress can be very similar to how you handle other types of stress. There are six key areas that you can focus on to help you gain a sense of control, well-being and keep you grounded.

  1. Make sleep a priority
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Eat a balance diet
  4. Add a calming supplement for support
  5. Stay hydrated
  6. Meditate 

Sleep is essential for our cognitive function, and we need the rest and recovery of sleep to feel our best. When you’re stressed, sleep can be difficult to come by. A natural supplement like those in the Complete Calm System can help you fall asleep and stay asleep without waking up feeling sluggish. Supplements can gently encourage your thoughts to settle down so you can sleep. 

Exercise can cause the brain to release its happy chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Exercise can also play an important role in lowering the body’s stress hormone levels.

A balanced diet and proper hydration can help keep your body properly fueled to handle stress from whatever direction it may come, and meditation is a great tool you can use anywhere to help quiet your mind and center yourself. 

It’s possible to do your very best and still experience internal stress or feelings of anxiousness. A supplement like Complete Calm System can boost your efforts, improve focus, and help elevate your mood.


Internal stress may not be easy to see, but it doesn’t minimize how it feels. While you may not see the stressors that cause internal stress, you may see the external manifestations of your stress. 

It’s important that you recognize the ways that internal stress can manifest. Recognizing the signs can help you know that you need to take action to help calm your mind. 


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Our Brains Were Not Built for This Much Uncertainty } 

Cortisol | 

Exercising to Relax | Harvard Health Publishing  

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This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.

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