Do you have any stress signs that fill your life with frustration? Have you ever experienced a pounding heart, breathlessness, and a dry mouth? Did you know these are signs of stress that you need to take care of?
You might be able to notice stress signs in others but it’s tough to recognize them in yourself. I’m sure you are also stressed at times, though you don’t realize it.
Remember, stress isn’t a disease or illness, but if ignored, it can cause serious illness.
“It’s not stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it.” ~ Hans Selye
What is Stress
Stress is normal, and affects people of all ages. It affects people from all walks of life, and it comes in many forms.
It’s a physical response to events that upset your balance or make you feel threatened in some way.
You go into a “fight-or-flight” mode, often called stress response, when you sense real or imaginary danger. It’s the way your body protects you.
During stress response, your blood pressure rises, breathing quickens, heart starts racing, and muscles tighten.
When stress works in the right manner, it helps you to stay alert, focused, and energetic. Stress even saves your life in emergency situations like when you apply sudden brakes to avoid an accident.
Good stress keeps you on your toes during your work. It drives you to study hard for an exam when you’d rather want to watch TV, or sharpens your concentration while you are competing for a game.
But beyond this normal level of good stress, it can cause major damage. It can affect your mood, productivity, relationships, and quality of life.
What Does Stress Do
Stress is mainly a coping mechanism. It makes your body release hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, which help you deal with tough situations.
These hormones may help you cope for a short time, but they are the main reason for most of your stress signs.
If you remain stressed for a long period, you can become ill because stress can even affect your immune system.
The unbalancing of hormones might change the way your body works on sugars in your body. This often leads to weight gain, which can make you even more stressed.
You will be amazed as to how stress tends to creep on you without you even knowing about it. You start getting used to it and take it as a normal part of your life, without noticing how it’s affecting your life.
Be careful of the stress signs that affect your body, behavior, and mind in many ways.
“Stress is the physical and psychological effects we experience as a result of the way we react to changes in the surrounding environment.” ~ Pavel Stoyanov
Causes of Stress
Pressures and situations that cause stress are called stressors. Anything that is against your will or forces you to adjust, and puts high demands on you can be stressful.
There can be negative and positive causes of stress. Negatives causes of stress can be due to reasons like tensions at home, and stress within the family.
Positive causes of stress can be a promotion, buying a house, getting married, having a baby, or going to college, and even your first day of school! Oh yes! Even kids get stressed.
External causes of stress can be related to work, major life changes, being too busy, kids, family, and relationship problems. It occurs even due to situations, challenges, expectations, and difficulties faced.
Stress signs can also be self-generated or internal. They can occur due to perfectionism, negative self-talk, inability to accept uncertainty, unrealistic expectations, pessimism, and lack of assertiveness.
Signs of stress that affect you may not affect others. For example, giving a speech in-front of people might be stressful for you, while for another person it might be a cakewalk.
“Stress is the trash of modern life — we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” ~Terri Guillemets
Stress Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
If you experience even one or two of these stress symptoms as listed out by The American Institute of Stress, it might be that your body is trying to tell you something.
1- Physical Stress Signs
These include chest pains, dizziness or fainting, breathlessness, feeling restless, frequent colds, and nervousness that leads to nail-biting.
You could even have symptoms like cramps, aches and pains, twitches, digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea, low sex drive or erectile dysfunction.
Even headaches, dry mouth, trembling hands, tight neck and shoulders, low back pain, cold feet, and increased sensitivity to noise and light can cause stress.
2- Mental Stress Signs
When you are stressed mentally you might feel depressed, worried or anxious. You feel weepy, angry, and remain hungry always or have no appetite at all.
You might also isolate yourself from others, procrastinate or neglect responsibility, use alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax. And you might develop nervous habits like shaking your leg or keep pacing around.
You may always feel tired and drained out, sleepy, and experience a lack of concentration. I have some of these stress signs too!
3- Emotional Stress Signs
Emotional stress symptoms can make you moody, agitated, feeling overwhelmed, and you might feel lonely and isolated. Even when you want to relax, you might not be able to.
There might be feelings of guilt, resentment, irritability, hopelessness, powerlessness, and panic attacks.
4- Cognitive Stress Signs
Cognitive signs of stress like poor judgment, memory problems, seeing only the negative, anxious or racing thoughts, and constant worrying can also affect you.
5- Behavioral Stress Signs
Behavioral symptoms like increased or decreased eating, sleeping, or smoking can lead to stress.
Even nail biting, hair pulling, restlessness, aggressiveness, obsessive thinking, edginess, and withdrawal are signs of stress.
Gosh! I have so many of these stress signs that I really didn’t know are due to stress! Do you have them too?
When you are in a stressful situation, you may notice an increased heart rate and heavy sweating. Often even your blood pressure rises, and over a long period this can lead to a risk of heart attack or stroke.
These stress signs and symptoms can also occur due to other psychological and medical problems. If you experience any of these signs of stress, see your doctor.
How Much Stress Can You Take
You need to know your limits of the amount of stress you can take, which again differs from person to person.
Some people collapse with mere frustrations, while others love the excitement and high-stressed life and work their best that ways.
The amount of stress you can tolerate depends on your outlook of life, the emotional intelligence, genetics, and the quality of your relationships.
Things Influencing the Stress You Can Tolerate
You can tolerate the stress symptoms mentioned above depending on your tolerance level.
- They can be your attitude and the way you take things. If you are an optimistic, then you can tolerate a lot of stress without being affected by it. Such people love challenges, accept changes as part of their lives, have a sense of humor, and believe in a higher power.
- If you remain isolated and lonely, you are more vulnerable to stress. Thus, supportive friends and family are great buffers against life stressors.
- When you have self-confidence and a belief in your ability, you can easily take stress in your stride. But you will feel out of control if you are vulnerable to stress.
- If you don’t know how to control your emotions, and how to calm and soothe yourself when you feel angry, afraid, or sad, then you are vulnerable to stress.
- It’s easier to cope with stress if you know about a stressful situation like what to expect and how long it will last.
For example, if you know you have to undergo surgery, you might experience the above mentioned stress signs. But it would help if you know the realistic picture in advance so that you are prepared.
“Stress is like spice – in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish. Too little produces a bland, dull meal; too much may choke you.” ~Donald Tubesing
Health Problems Due to Stress
When you are stressed while arguing with a friend, due to a traffic jam, work load, busy home life, or a mountain of bills, your body reacts similar to a life-or-death situation.
Stress signs that occur for a long time can lead to serious health problems.
Chronic stress can:
- Raise your blood pressure.
- Suppress the immune system.
- Cause infertility.
- Increase the risk of a stroke.
- Speed your aging process.
- Lead to obesity.
- Lead to pain of any kind.
- Digestive problems.
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Sleep problems.
- Skin conditions like eczema.
Check out these signs of stress that tell you it’s time to combat the stress in your lives.
Coping With Stress
There are many ways to manage stress signs that all of us face. I will cover them in a later post or else this post will become too lengthy!
You can’t remove the stress signs from your life, but you can control how much stress affects you by making your life easier.
Try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, Tai chi, deep breathing to manage your stress. Sleep well, eat healthy, limit your smoking and drinking, and set realistic goals for yourself.
Also, don’t try to be an overachiever or do things beyond your limits. Learn to say no! I know I fall into this category!
Physical activity and exercises practiced regularly reduce the stress hormone. Exercise also combats anxiety and is an anti-depressant, besides being a sleeping aid for most people.
When you practice these activities regularly, you’ll find the signs of stress reducing. There will be a boost of energy and a feeling of joy. You will feel more at peace and find serenity.
Besides these, try to take frequent breaks between you work, and don’t talk about work during your break! Use your weekends to unplug and relax, and don’t forget to go on vacations.
Spend time with your family and share your feelings with you loved ones. (I need to do all of these too – so this is a great reminder for me as well!)
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~William James
I never really realized how stressed I am till I wrote this post! There are so many things I can relate to, and am sure you also did – didn’t you?
Over to you –
Do you feel you are stressed? If so, what stress signs could you best relate to. Have you tried ways to overcome these signs of stress? Share in the comments below.
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