Stress Warning Signs
Knowing your stress signs and symptoms is important. If you don’t know how stress manifests in your life, its presence will remain outside your conscious awareness. Knowing your physical signs of stress and emotional signs of stress allows you to intervene when you’re experiencing a stressful response. And intervention is the key to protecting yourself from the long-term damage of stress.
Let’s now look at all of the stress signs and symptoms. We’ll start with the physical signs and then move onto the emotional signs.
Stress Signs And Symptoms: The Physical Signs Of Stress
There are two types of physical stress – behavioral and physiological.
- Changes in eating habits (eating more or less amounts of food)
- Changes in sleeping habits (sleeping too much or not getting enough sleep)
- Teeth grinding (including when asleep)
- Use of drugs to relax (including cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs)
- Nervous habits (example nail biting, being easily startled, stuttering, nervous ticks, trembling)
- Excessive perspiration
- Isolating yourself from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Body aches (especially headaches and neck and lower backaches)
- Chest pain and/or increased heartbeat
- Digestive issues (from indigestion and vomiting to diarrhea and constipation)
- Increased frequency of urination
- Dryness of the throat and mouth
- Increased susceptibility to illness, including increasing frequency of colds and flu-like symptoms
- Reduced sexual appetite
- Feeling nauseous or dizzy
- Feeling exhausted
- Premenstrual tension
Stress Signs And Symptoms – The Emotional Signs Of Stress
Emotional signs of stress can also be broken down into two categories – thoughts and feelings
- Trouble concentrating
- Dwelling in the negative
- Racing thoughts
- Fear of failure
- Poor judgment
- Easily embarrassed
- Preoccupation with thoughts/tasks
- Constant worry and anxiety
- Feelings of unworthiness and low self esteem
- Inability to relax
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Loneliness and isolation
If you are already experiencing any of these stress warning signs, practicing stress management strategies can help you get back in control. Stress management strategies not only make you feel better right away, they also protect you from the many forms of long-term damage associated with protracted experiences of stress.
The APA’s Three Categories Of Stress
While it’s important to know your stress signs and symptoms, it’s also important to know what type of stress you are suffering from. The American Psychological Association (APA) has defined three separate types of stress: acute, episodic acute and chronic.
According to the APA, acute stress is the most common form of stress. It is the body’s natural reaction to the pressures of the recent past and anticipated pressures of the near future. The APA says “acute stress is thrilling and exciting in small doses, but too much is exhausting”.
They use the example of a fast run down a ski slope which in small doses would be exhilarating but over a longer time period would be taxing and may lead to falls and broken bones.
Acute stress can be brought on by moving house, the loss of an important contract at work or an occasional problem your child might experience in school. Symptoms of acute stress include tension headaches, upset stomachs and shortness of breath.
Episodic Acute Stress
People whose lives are a constant roller coaster often suffer episodic acute stress. “Type A” personalities and constant worriers are classic candidates. They typically have too many things on their plate and not enough time. They over promise, overachieve, run from one task to another and rarely relax.
The APA says the symptoms of episodic acute stress are the symptoms of extended over arousal: persistent tension headaches, migraines, hypertension, chest pain, and heart disease. Treating episodic acute stress requires intervention on a number of levels, generally requiring professional help, which may take many months.
Living in states of never-ending troubles, for example, the stress of poverty or war, an unhappy marriage or career result in chronic stress symptoms. These situations are characterized by a loss of hope in dealing with the cause of the stress. People in chronically bad situations become resigned to their circumstances and cease searching for solutions. Life ambition is reduced to survival rather than thriving.
Chronic stress has a high morbidity because it’s what causes the onset of many diseases, like heart attack, stroke, and possibly even cancer. Treating chronic stress requires intervention and fundamental change on many level.
No matter what your relationship is to stress, you can change it. Real change starts with the resolve to adopt new responses and behaviors. For example, deciding to commit to an exercise regimen is a positive change that could have many positive benefits. The start of change is always hard but usually becomes enjoyable once you’re past the “hump”.