Being stressed is more than just feeling anxious about something. Stress is a medical issue and occurs when the body reacts to a situation (or a variety of situations combined) with physical, mental, and emotional responses. Stress happens to us all at one time or another, but when stress is constant, putting pressure on the body and the mind, it can become a real problem. What are the symptoms of stress and how does it affect our health?
Although stress has definite physical symptoms, it is perhaps the emotional symptoms that come with stress that is often missed, or interpreted as something else. Therefore, it’s important to know what they are. Someone suffering from stress will become quickly and easily agitated, often over what seem like small or even insignificant things to other people. Another symptom that often manifests is feeling completely overwhelmed; it feels as though you are losing control of everything, and whatever is happening around you is nothing to do with you. It can be hard to focus and hard to gather your thoughts through a whirlwind of events. Or you might find that you have to take control and you can start to become a difficult person to be around because you are always trying to control other people and events.
Someone suffering from stress will find it impossible to relax and wind down; the mind is never quiet, and there is always another issue coming, or going round and round. It means that they cannot easily enjoy the simple pleasures in life, such as reading a book, watching a TV program, going to the theatre and so on, because they just can’t concentrate.
People who are stressed will also often feel bad about themselves and will suffer from low self-esteem which leaves them feeling lonely, worthless, and depressed (depression is different from stress, but they are often linked). A common behavior that many people who suffer from stress will eventually do is avoid other people.
Physical Symptoms of Stress
As well as the emotional symptoms and problems associated with stress, there are a variety of ways that stress manifests itself physically too. These symptoms may be easier to spot, although it isn’t always possible to know that it is stress causing them since they can be caused by many other things too. This is why it is important to see your doctor if symptoms persist, as they will be able to diagnose you better. Being stressed can lead to low energy and lethargy, feeling listless and as though you don’t want to do anything, even if you know you have to.
Stress can also give sufferers constant headaches. The headaches may become so much a part of everyday life that they begin to go unnoticed, but this should never be the normal state of affairs. Stress can also bring on stomach issues, and problems with the digestive system which result in nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. It can also mean frequent stomach aches. Aches and pains, in general, are another symptom of stress. Have you ever gone to pick something up, or walk up the stairs, for example, and found that your shoulder, back, legs and so on are sore for no reason? Well, remember that there is always a reason, and that reason could be stress. Chest pain and a rapid heartbeat are yet another symptom and one that is perhaps more worrying than most.
You may also find that you begin to suffer from insomnia and that you lose any feelings of sexual desire. In men, this can manifest physically and cause erectile dysfunction, or impotence, which deepens feelings of worthlessness. It is possible to get shockwave therapy for ED treatment, but if stress is the reason behind it you will need to see a doctor as well. More physical symptoms of stress include frequent colds, ringing in the ears, excess sweating, dry mouth and difficulty swallowing, shaking, sweaty hands and feet (or cold hands and feet), and a clenched jaw.
Why Does Stress Occur?
We need stress in our lives. In small doses, stress can be extremely positive, keeping us completely alert to danger, and ready to run if need be. It goes back right to the beginning of humanity when running away from something was a survival mechanism. Therefore avoiding stress completely isn’t helpful. However, living in a state of constant stress, when there are continuous challenges and problems thrown at you, and you have no chance to catch your breath between issues, when there is no moment to relax and gather your thoughts, is when stress becomes a negative and dangerous thing. Negative stress (also known as distress) not only brings on the emotional and physical symptoms we have talked about above, but can also bring on, or worsen other diseases too, including heart disease and respiratory issues.
Stress can also cause people to turn to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to lessen the uncomfortable and disempowering symptoms that they are feeling. For some, these unhealthy habits are the only way that they can get their bodies and minds into a relaxed state; despite that, they come with their own set of problems and should be avoided. Instead, it’s essential that you speak to a medical professional if you think you might be suffering from stress. Self-medication is never the answer.
Stress can affect every aspect of your life; your emotions, how you think, what you understand, your physical health, and even your behavior. You may think that you can handle stress, that you are strong, and you can get over it, but that’s not the right attitude. Yes, you may be a strong person, but that doesn’t mean that you can or should take on the symptoms of stress and just allow them to destroy you, mentally and physically.
Asking for help from someone who knows and understands what you are going through is not a sign of weakness; it means you are taking control and becoming aware. It means you want to be healed and get back to how you used to be.