Understanding Stress Part 1

Do you know all about the symptoms of stress?


Marianna Kilburn
@MariannaKilburn


03 December 2013

What is stress?

Stress is a huge topic and over the weeks and months that follow we aim to feature a range of posts covering a variety of stressful situations and the ways in which we can overcome them.

We would be delighted to read comments and feedback about your own personal experiences. Stress can leave people feeling isolated and when we step out and share our stories we can potentially help others as well as ourselves.

A definition of stress according to mental health charity MIND (http://www.mind.org.uk/) is ‘we have too much to do, too much on our minds, or other people making unreasonable demands on us, or we are dealing with situations that we do not have control over.’ Whatever the cause of the stress, we lose our sense of mental and emotional well being and life becomes a challenge.

Accurate statistics are hard to come by but MIND state that ‘1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year’

What are the symptoms?

When stress kicks in our bodies activate the ‘fight or flight response’ and produce a surge of stress hormones in reaction to the perceived threat. In an ideal world, once the threat has passed the hormones return to normal.

However, modern stressors keep many people running around with their stress hormones constantly deployed and too familiar with operating on high alert.

If left unchecked this can wreak havoc with the body, mind and emotions and whilst stress in itself is not a medical diagnosis, it can lead to anxiety, depression and more complex physical and emotional health problems over time.

Symptoms vary and it may help to keep a checklist of the personal signs that indicate that stress is ‘doing its thing!’ The quicker we spot the signs, the quicker we can take action to restore balance.

The check list below gives an example of typical symptoms we may encounter (from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm)

Cognitive symptoms

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying.

Emotional symptoms

  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness.

Behavioural symptoms

  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing).

Physical symptoms

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