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Signs of Stress

“Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress; 75 to 90 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints; stress is linked to the six leading causes of death–heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. ” (Miller, 1993, p. 12) “Stress plays havoc with our health, our productivity, our pocketbooks, and our lives, but it is necessary, even desirable. ” (Oxford, 1998, p. 29) In researching stress, one would learn about what stress is, the early warning signs of stress, the different types of stress, and how to build resistance to it.

Stress is a combination of physical, mental, and emotional feelings that result from pressure, worry, and anxiety. These pressures are called stressors. Some examples of common stressors are; divorce, death in the family, job change, pregnancy, a large mortgage, marriage, and retirement. “In medicine, stress is, a physical, chemical, or emotional development that causes strains that can lead to physical illness. ” (Microsoft Encarta) The early warning signs of stress include apathy, anxiety, irritability, mental fatigue, and overcompensation or denial.

Some signs of apathy are feelings of sadness or recreation that isnt fun any more. Feelings of restlessness, agitation, insecurity and a sense of worthlessness are examples of anxiety. Signs of irritability are feeling hypersensitive, defensive, and arrogant. Feeling argumentative, rebellious, or angry are also signs of irritability. Examples of mental fatigue are feeling preoccupied, having difficulty concentrating, and trouble thinking flexibly. Working too hard, denying that there are problems, ignoring symptoms, and feeling suspicious are all signs of overcompensation or denial.

Some behavioral signs of stress are avoiding things, doing things to extremes, administrative problems, and legal roblems. Avoiding things includes keeping to ones self, avoiding work, having trouble accepting responsibility, and neglecting responsibility. Examples of doing things to extremes are alcoholism, gambling, spending sprees, and sexual promiscuity. Some administrative problems are being late to work, poor appearance, poor personal hygiene, and being accident prone. Possible legal problems are indebtedness, shoplifting, traffic tickets, and an inability to control violent impulses.

Some physical signs of stress include excessive worrying about illness, frequent illness, and physical exhaustion. Reliance on medication including remedies like aspirin is a physical sign of stress. Ailments such as insomnia, appetite changes, and weight gain or loss are also physical signs of stress. Indigestion, nausea, and nervous diarrhea, are also physical signs, as well as, constipation, and sexual problems. Stress can be confusing. There are some myths surrounding stress. Here are a few of them. One myth is that stress is the same for everybody. This is not true.

What is stressful for one person, may or may not be stressful for another; each person responds to stress in a different way. Some eople seem to think that stress is everywhere, so there is nothing a person can do about it. This is not so. A person can plan their life so that stress doesnt overwhelm them. Another myth is that stress is always bad for a person. This isnt true because managed stress makes people productive and happy. Some people think that only the major symptoms of stress require attention. The minor symptoms are the early warnings that a better job of managing stress is needed.

Another myth about stress is that people think if they dont have any symptoms of stress, they dont have stress. People can be affected by stress without having ymptoms of stress. There are four types of stress. There is acute stress, episodic acute stress, chronic stress, and traumatic stress. Each type of stress has its own characteristics, symptoms, duration, and treatments. Acute stress is the most common type of stress. “Acute stress comes from demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future. (Hanson, 1985 p. 17)

Acute stress is exciting and thrilling in small amounts, but too much is exhausting. Overdoing it on acute stress can lead to psychological distress, tension headaches, upset stomach, and other ymptoms. Some examples of stressors that can cause acute stress are; an auto accident that crumpled the car fender, the loss of an important contact, a childs occasional problems at school, and so on. Acute stress doesnt have enough time to do the extensive damage that is associated with long-term stress.

Some of the most common symptoms of stress are emotional distress, muscular problems, stomach problems, and transient over arousal. Emotional distress includes anger, irritability, and anxiety. Muscular problems such as tension headaches, upper and lower back pain, and jaw pain (TMJ), are symptoms of stress. Muscular tensions that lead to pulled muscles and tendon and ligament problems, are symptoms of stress as well. Other symptoms of stress are stomach, gut and bowel problems. Heartburn, acid stomach, ulcers, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome are examples of these problems.

Transient over arousal is another symptom of stress. It leads to elevation in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and sweaty palms. Heart palpitations, dizziness, and migraine headaches can also result from transient over arousal. Symptoms like cold hands or feet, shortness of breath, and chest pain are also common. Episodic Acute stress is what people who suffer from acute stress frequently have. These peoples lives are so disorderly that they are constantly in a state of chaos and crisis. They are always in a hurry, but they are always late. If something can go wrong in their life, it does. They take on too much, have too many irons in the fire, and cant organize the slew of self-inflicted demands and pressures clamoring for their attention. ” (Miller, 1993 p. 18)

Often, these people describe themselves as having “a lot of nervous energy. ” Another form of episodic acute stress comes from non-stop worry. The people who worry too much are always thinking that something bad is going to happen. These people tend to be over aroused and tense. The symptoms of episodic acute stress are the symptoms of extended over arousal: persistent tension headaches, migraines, hypertension, chest pain, and heart disease. The treatment of episodic acute stress requires intervention on a number of levels, generally requires professional help, and may take many months. ” (Eliot, 1989 p. 59)

Sufferers are usually very resistant to change of any kind. Acute stress can come up in anyones life but it is highly treatable and manageable. A more serious type of stress is chronic stress. Chronic stress is not thrilling or exciting like acute stress can be. “Chronic stress is the grinding stress that wears people away day after day, year after year. ” (Battison, 1997 p. 19) It destroys minds, bodies, and lives.

Chronic stress comes when a person doesnt see a way out of a miserable situation. The worst part of chronic stress is that people get used to it and forget that its there. Chronic stress kills by means of suicide, violence, heart attack, stroke, and, perhaps, even cancer. The symptoms of chronic stress are hard to treat and could require a lot of edical and behavioral treatment, therapy, and stress management. Traumatic stress is a special kind of chronic stress, known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is caused by trauma that is not handled correctly.

Some examples of traumatic experiences are; accidents, rape, verbal, physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, being in the presence of extreme violence, a brush with death, natural disasters, death of a loved one, and imprisonment. The symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks, over arousal, emotional numbness or loss of feeling, along with extreme emotional outbursts to minor things. People with PTSD suffer from problems with oncentration, controlling impulses, and decision making. The long term consequences of PTSD are depression, anxiety, behavioral disorders, multiple personality disorder, and suicide.

There are three basic strategies for dealing with stress at the source. The first strategy is altering situations to make them less stressful. Avoiding stressful situations is the next strategy. Accepting stressful situations is the other basic strategy in dealing with stress at the source. Each strategy has its disadvantages and its advantages. Its up to every person to decide which one to use with which situation. The tougher a persons resistance to stress is, the more stress they can take. ” (Hanson, 1985 p. 52) There is a lot people can do to maximize their resistance to stress. People have resources to help them handle stress.

These resources include familial and financial resources, social and spiritual resources, as well as personal resources. They can also develop good health habits and get rid of bad health habits to help build up a resistance to stress. Following these guidelines in a persons life is a good way to increase their resistance to stress. Eat at least one hot balanced meal per day. Improving a persons nutritional abits makes them much less susceptible to stress. Limiting a person to less than three caffinated drinks per day helps to improve their health and increase their susceptibility to stress.

Caffeine can stay in a persons system generating adrenaline release for hours, creating and artificial stress response that can keep a person wired and tense for hours and interfere with their sleep. ” (Perloe, 1998, p. 62) R. Coyle (lecture, February 1, 1999) Practice the calming reflex regularly. The calming reflex is a quick exercise a person can do to keep their stress level from reaching their threshold for stress. When a person reaches their threshold, they begin to experience symptoms. Use this whenever something comes up that would cause you stress.

The first step in the stress reflex is to notice the stressor. Thats your cue. Then you say silently to yourself, “Sparkling eyes, smiling face; alert, amused mind, calm body. ” Next, take a deep breath in through imaginary holes in the bottom of your feet; hold 2-4 seconds, and while exhaling very slowly let your jaw hang loose, let your lips part and allow your shoulders to drop. Notice a feeling of warmth follow the air as it leaves your body out the imaginary holes in the bottom f your feet. Take another breath and resume your activity. Give and receive affection regularly.

Research has shown that people who give and receive affection regularly, live longer and are healthier. Have at least one relative within 50 miles. Family is one of the best ways of reducing stress. Regularly attend social activities. Friends a person meets can provide a support network for good and bad times. Have a network of friends and acquaintances. A strong social network helps fight off feelings of loneliness, isolation, and despair. Have one or more friends to confide in about personal matters. Close friends boost a persons ental health just by being there.

Exercise to the point of perspiration at least three times a week. Exercise leads to fitness and people who are fit handle stress better. Being the appropriate weight for a persons height is important for their self esteem. Be in good health because a persons health is the first line of defense against stress. Get seven to eight hours of sleep four nights per week. Lack of sleep leads to exhaustion that harms the quality of a persons life, health, and productivity. It also decreases your ability to handle stress. A person should have an income or allowance that they can eet their basic expenses with.

Money can be a big help when coping with stress and life. Be able to organize your time effectively. People who manage their time effectively, have less stress. Take quiet time for yourself during the day. It can recharge a persons mind and body, increase their energy level, and raise their level of efficiency. Do something fun at least once a week. Doing something just for the fun of it, improves a persons resistance to stress. Have an optimistic outlook on life. Optimists handle stress better that pessimists because they get things done quicker. Be able to speak openly about your feelings when ou are angry or worried.

Letting the emotions of stress stay bottled up inside a person is harmful. A person can get strength from their religious beliefs. Spiritual beliefs help a lot with resistance to stress. As one can see, stress is a combination of feelings that have different effects on peoples health, and also there are many different ways to build resistance to it so it will not conquer your life. “Exciting or challenging events such as the birth of a child, completion of a major project at work, or moving to a new city generates as much stress as does tragedy or disaster. Without it, life would be dull. “

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