Stress is triggered in different people in different ways and the symptoms and signs vary from person to person. It is the body’s unconscious reaction to harmful situations, known as the ‘fight or flight response’ and can be protective, in the right circumstances.
However ongoing, chronic stress can be harmful, whether it caused by work, family problems or personal issues such as bereavement or illness. Chronic stress is experienced as a feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious most of the time and it can impact on your health. You may be suffering from stress symptoms and not even realise it. Here are just some physical stress symptoms to look out for:
Clinical studies have shown that increased stress is associated with headaches. The greater the stress, the more frequently the headaches occur. Stress headaches are often associated with tense muscles in the neck and shoulders.
People who are stressed can be prone to grinding their teeth. This can manifest as dental problems and jaw pain.
Stress is known to affect your immune system. So, if you find that you are suffering frequent colds or chest infections, stress could be playing a part.
We have all heard the expression ‘don’t lose any sleep over it’. Stress can break through your sleep, keeping you up at night. The effects of insomnia will spill over into your day, when you will feel sleepy and have low energy.
Constipation and diarrhoea can be stress symptoms. Your appetite can also be affected: when stressed you may eat more or eat much less.
Becoming aware of your heart beating rapidly, known as palpitations, is a common stress symptom.
Here are a few mental stress symptoms to look out for:
There are healthier ways to cope with stress, including taking regular exercise and learning techniques to help you relax, such as yoga and meditation. Try to figure out your own stress triggers and find ways to manage them: for example, if you find yourself under pressure due to poor time management, look at ways of improving how you prioritise your daily tasks. Make more time for your favourite hobbies or take a break – a change of scenery can often help recalibrate your stress levels. Eating healthily and getting enough sleep can also help manage symptoms of stress. Some people find that spending time outdoors is restorative - take a walk in a wood or by the seashore. You could also try complementary therapies such as aromatherapy or massage.
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