There’s Something About Stress: The Symptoms
Christmas is coming. The festive period although exciting for some, can also be a very stressful time for people because it represents a period of complex social interactions with family or relatives as well as unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. In fact, some people rate Christmas as being more stressful than divorce or being burgled!
Signs of Stress
Last week we looked at what stress actually is, exploring the various physiological changes and effects of fight, flight or freeze modes. Now we can take a deeper look into symptoms of stress and how this is manifested in our daily lives.
How Can I Tell I’m Stressed?
Well, everyone experiences stress in different ways depending on the situation. Sometimes we can work that out pretty quickly, because we have come to recognise it in ourselves; and at other times we might be oblivious to signs that we are actually stressed. Stress affects us both emotionally and physically therefore it has the unique ability to affect our behaviours, which in turns affects our relationships with other people.
The way we feel is probably one of the first signs we notice about ourselves when we are stressed. We might be more aware of becoming more irritable or short tempered than normal, or perhaps become more withdrawn and uninterested in things. During this stage, even the smallest thing can trigger an exaggerated response. For example, imagine the man who becomes very aggressive on the train after someone accidentally stepped on his foot. It probably has little to do with physical pain he felt on his foot, and more to do with his stress levels reaching its peak following a stressful day or week.
What we think also tells us how stressed we might be feeling as well. When we’re stressed, our thoughts race from one thing to another and it may become increasingly difficult for us to concentrate or focus on a particular task. This makes it less likely that we will complete things, which then causes even more stress.
How we behave when we are stressed is usually a direct response to our feelings and thoughts. We might find it difficult to make decisions when we are stressed so we either avoid making one, or simply just act impulsively.
The physical response to stress is designed to help our bodies protect itself from potential danger by increasing strength and stamina, speed of reactions and helping the mind become more alert.
You can do anything, but not everything.
Some of the most common symptoms of stress.
Listed below are some of the most common symptoms of stress (not an exhaustive list).
Emotions: You might feel …
- irritable, aggressive, impatient or wound up
- anxious, nervous or afraid
- like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off
- unable to enjoy yourself
- uninterested in life
- like you’ve lost your sense of humour
- a sense of dread
- worried about your health
- neglected or lonely
Behaviours: You might:
- find it hard to make decisions
- avoid situations that trouble you
- snap at people
- bite your nails
- pick at your skin or hair
- struggle to concentrate
- eat too much or too little
- smoke or drink alcohol more than usual
- feel restless (like you can’t sit still)
- feel tearful or cry
Physical – You might have:
- shallow breathing or hyperventilate
- panic attacks
- blurred eyesight or sore eyes
- problems getting to sleep, staying asleep or having nightmares
- sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex
- feel tired all the time
- grind your teeth or clench your jaw
- chest pains
- high blood pressure
- indigestion or heartburn
- constipation or diarrhoea
- feel nausea, dizzy or faint
Do not worry if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Next week we will look at what can be done to alleviate some of the signs of stress that we all experience from time to time. If you are feeling especially overwhelmed by some or all of these symptoms, please see your GP for advice.
Whatever you do this Christmas break, try to enjoy it and have fun!
Wishing you a truly merry Christmas,
At Aurora Wellness we are all about self-improvement & discovery. To discover ways in which you can maximise your full potential and learn useful life-enhancing skills, apply to join us at our next WonderWoman Workshop on Friday 23rd March to Monday 26th March 2018.
After experiencing three separate bereavements in the family, I learnt how to overcome the lasting effects of my low moods and anxieties, and to get back into the world! I learnt that all the resilience I need to survive is already in me, and that it is my responsibility to make myself happy.