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Signs that indicate stress

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain caused in your mind due to the occurrence of adverse situations in life. It is your body's defence mechanism to react to any kind of harmful situation- real or perceived. This response is known as the "fight or flight" reaction or the stress response.

When functioning properly, this mechanism protects you and also helps you to stay focused, alert, and energetic. In today's fast-paced world, developing stress is quite common. Stress affects us all at one point or the other in life. While a little stress is considered good, beyond a level it can cause serious damage to the physical and mental health of an individual.

Types of Stress

  • Acute stress:

It is the most common type of stress faced by almost every other person in today’s chaotic environment. It is our body's immediate reaction to a new challenge, event, or demand. Acute stress prompts the fight or flight response in your body. Be it an argument at the workplace or a ride on a rollercoaster your body turns on this response as a defence mechanism. Acute stress doesn’t have any lingering health effects on an individual.

  • Episodic acute stress:

When acute stress occurs frequently, it is called episodic acute stress. People suffering from episodic acute stress are often worried and pessimistic in nature. Stress becomes a part of their life and thus, it becomes a little hard for them to change their lifestyles.

  • Chronic Stress:

When acute stress is not resolved, it begins to increase in extent and lasts for a prolonged period of time, it becomes chronic stress. This stress is constant and doesn’t go away. It is detrimental to health and can contribute to serious health diseases. Chronic stress can be triggered by things like poverty, dysfunctional family, unhappy marriage, or bad job.

Signs of stress

Stress means different things to different persons. An event can be stressful for one person while the same might not be of concern to the other. Some people can handle stress better than others. Stress is everywhere and in order to control it effectively, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms it brings along. Recognizing these signs can be a little hard as you conveniently tend to get used to them. It is important to recognize these signs before you reach the breaking point.

Here’s a list of some common signs of stress

  • Sweating:

Stress can often cause an individual to sweat excessively. There are various research studies that show that stress can increase sweating levels among people. Stress causes our body temperature to rise due to which the sweat glands of our body get activated by the nerves sensitive to various stressors. Sweating more under the influence of stress is normal but excessive sweating can affect your confidence and interfere with your normal routine.

  • Acne:

Many of us have experienced acne breakouts before the major events of our life. Various studies have well-established the association between stress and acne. Acne is considered to be one of the most common signs of stress. Stress hormones increase the inflammation and oil production in our body flaring the acne levels. It also causes people to touch their faces more often, spreading the bacteria and developing acne. They scratch or pick at their skin leading to redness and swelling.

  • Increased and fast heartbeat:

Rapid heartbeat is also a sign of increased stress levels. Demanding and traumatic events or tasks often make you overwhelmed, triggering the adrenaline and making your heart beat fast or a rise in blood pressure.

  • Headache:

Stress is considered to be a common trigger for headaches. It increases the headache frequency in an individual to a considerable amount. The everyday irritants like lost papers lost keys, or getting stuck in traffic can cause headaches and tense the muscles of your body leading to stress. Emotional pressures are more responsible for allowing an individual to aggressively express emotions like anxiety, worry, or fatigue often leading to headache. These headaches can be episodic or constant depending on the stress levels of a person.

  • Depression:

Depression is significantly associated with both acute and chronic stress. Research studies prove that higher levels of depressive symptoms are associated with a high level of stress. If you are unable to deal well with the stress, it can lead to frequent depressive symptoms like mood swings, decreased productivity levels, and sleeping disorder.

  • Persistent pain:

Aches and pains are common complaints of individuals with high-stress levels. Studies prove that chronic pain in back, neck, temples, etc. are often related to the increased stress levels in your body.

  • Changes in appetite:

Food is necessary to adequately nourish your body. Overpowering stress changes the eating pattern of an individual to a huge extent. Lack of appetite can lead to serious illness. When you're stressed, certain emotional and psychological changes occur in your body. These changes affect your stomach and digestive system making you either lose your appetite or overconsume the appetising items. Studies represent that people often observe fluctuations in their weight during the course of stressful periods.

  • Sickness:

Stress is bound to take a toll on your immune system, causing increased vulnerability to infections and diseases. Being stressed for a prolonged period of time, increases the risks catching a common cold, fever, heartburns and even major problems like heart diseases and cancer. According to research studies, 60 percent to 80 percent of doctor visits are related to illnesses caused by stress.

  • Digestive Problems:

Problems like diarrhoea, spasms in the oesophagus, increased acid in stomach, feeling nauseous and constipation are significant signs of stress. Increased stress levels often increase the risks of constipation and severally affect the individuals with digestive problems like cramping, stomach ache and bloating. Chronic stress can also aggravate gastrointestinal disorders.

  • Decreased Energy:

Our body cannot handle extended exposure to mental, emotional, and physical stressors without any consequences. Stress drains the body of all the necessary nutrients required to create energy. This is a vicious circle which drives low energy levels and persistent fatigue in your body.

  • Insomnia:

Stress is frequently linked with disruptions in the sleep cycle. Lying in bed worrying and feeling anxious about some events or tasks will never allow you to get some peaceful sleep. Lack of proper sleep causes people to not function well during the day. Sleepless nights intensify the excretion of stress hormones by the body, making the condition worse for you. People suffering from insomnia caused by stress have to face major downsides to the problem.

  • Changes in libido:

Hormonal changes are one of the biggest signs of stress. Chronic stress causes the body to produce too much of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can lower your libido. Changes in sex drive is a common occurrence in people facing stressful situations. Studies show that high level of stress negatively impacts sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction in an individual.

A lot of times you might not be able to realize right away when you're stressed. Stress acutely affects the way you behave.

Here are some behavioural signs to observe while not feeling right

  • You might constantly feel wound up, irritated, aggressive, nervous, neglected, lonely or afraid.
  • You might get the sense of being overburdened all the time.
  • Your thoughts might appear to race continuously and you'll be unable to enjoy yourself.
  • In severe cases, suicidal feelings are also a sign of being under stress.
  • The ability to make sound decisions is also impacted when under stress.
  • Picking at your skin or biting nails shows that it’s time to be careful now.
  • Snapping at people, lack of concentration, restlessness, and being tearful or crying all the time also show that stress is affecting your everyday routine.
  • Smoking or drinking more than usual is also a mark of stress.
  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilating in certain situations also embarks the presence of stress in your mind.
  • Panic attacks in even the slightest of the anxious situations also prove that you're under the influence of stress.
  • Nightmares, muscle tension, blurred eyesight, sore eyes, and clenching of jaw all are signs of a stressed person.

Stress is an unavoidable part of our lives. There's no proper medical definition of stress, making it difficult for you to work out what causes stress and how to deal with it. However, irrespective of the definitions, you can learn to manage your stress better by managing external pressure so that stressful occurrences don't affect you adversely to a huge extent. Developing your emotional resilience to cope better with tough situations will also benefit you have peace of mind. Identify your stressors and control or avoid them accordingly.

Not all stress is bad as at times it is the response which helps us to survive in unexpected situations. Eat healthy, exercise often, take proper rest, talk to people, connect socially, take a break, to effectively manage stress. Accepting the things you can't change is the key to manage stress effectively and handling stress is important to maintain a healthy and fulfilling life.

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