Many of adults in the United States deal with stress on a daily basis. Stress has become so commonplace that many of us except being in fight or flight mode as a normal way of life. All stress isn’t bad. In small doses, it can help one perform under pressure and motivate one to do their best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. According to help guide.org.: here are some signs and symptoms to look for when stress has become to much.
What is Stress?
Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight-or-freeze” reaction, or the stress response.
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.
The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.
Responding to Stress
It’s important to learn how to recognize when your stress levels are out of control. The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll.
The signs and symptoms of stress overload can be almost anything. Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways, and everyone experiences stress differently. Not only can overwhelming stress lead to serious mental and physical health problems, it can also take a toll on your relationships at home, work, and school.
Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed by stress:
Foot on the gas – An angry, agitated, or “fight” stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
Foot on the brake – A withdrawn, depressed, or “flight” stress response. You shut down, pull away, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
Foot on both – A tense or “freeze” stress response. You become frozen under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface you’re extremely agitated.
Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms
Inability to concentrate
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Depression or general unhappiness
Physical Symptoms Behavioral Symptoms
Aches and pains
Diarrhea or constipation
Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
Loss of sex drive
Eating more or less
Sleeping too much or too little
Isolating yourself from others
Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological or medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress-related.