How Can I Recognize Stress, and What Can I do to Help Manage it?

Highly Stressed Businessman

According to the 2017 Stress in America survey, Americans reported at least one symptom of stress rose from 71% in August 2016 to 80% in January 2017. Stress can have many physical implications, contributing to long-term problems for the heart and blood vessels, giving chronic muscle tension, negatively affecting the gastrointestinal and nervous system, and more. Recognizing the signs of stress is the first step towards managing it. The following are signs to look out for:

    • Low energy
    • Headaches
    • Upset stomach
    • Tense muscles, aches, pains
    • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
    • Insomnia
    • Frequent infections and colds
    • Loss of sexual desire
    • Nervousness
    • Dry mouth
  • Clenched Jaw

In addition to physical symptoms, you will likely recognize some emotional symptoms: feeling easily agitated, feeling overwhelmed or as though you’ve lost control, having low self-esteem, having difficulty relaxing, avoiding others, constant worrying, racing thoughts, inability to focus, poor judgment, forgetfulness, and more. Ideally you want to work towards taking care of your mental health before you get too stressed – you can take preventative measures by getting appropriate sleep, eating healthily, exercising, and more. Once you’ve identified the stress, it’s important to pinpoint what is causing the stress so that you can take appropriate action on it.

For example, if you’re experiencing stress at your job, you will want to identify what it is about your job that is stressful – is it an incident that occurred? The type of work you’re doing? Addressing this can help you determine your next steps – do you need to speak with a manager about an incident, or do you need to ask for more flexibility in the type of work you’re doing? As you can see, acting towards the root of stress can help you release that stress, especially if it’s from a reoccurring issue.

When we experience stress, our hormones – such as cortisol – overload our system, giving us that “fight or flight” response. Our heart rate increases, we breathe more heavily, and our blood vessels constrict, leading to a host of other physical and mental issues. Take steps today towards winding down from stress to help reduce your chances of complications in the future.

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