Stress: What it is, and How to recognize it

Just about everyone has felt it at some point. The quickening of your breath, the aches in your shoulders, even the beating of your heart gets faster. We hear about stress all the time, but do you really know what it is, and how it can manifest in your life? Here are a few surefire ways to recognize it, and the effect that it is having on you and your body.

Generally speaking, stress is something in a situation, action or thought that can make you feel frustrated, angry or anxious. Specifically what may cause stress to your neighbor or brother probably won’t be as stressful for you and vice versa. Everyone has different stress triggers.

Of course, this definition can be a bit useless because it is so broad. In most cases, a better way to handle stress is to recognize what symptoms it has, or how it manifests in your daily life. One of the most debilitating symptoms is that of anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear, especially when the source of such feelings cannot be easily ascertained. This not knowing often adds to the feeling, making it worse than before.

Other symptoms associated with stress often depend on the situation, and the person suffering from undue stress. For example, one person may feel tension in their shoulders, while another will feel nauseous. If faced with a stressful situation, your neighbor might break out in a sweat, while your mouth feels dry as a desert. Often a prolonged exposure to stress will lead to higher blood pressure and other health problems as well. The physical symptoms vary widely, and it can be hard to recognize them for what they are. In most cases however, if the stress is removed, the symptoms will dissipate soon after.

In addition to the mental symptoms that can signify a rise in stress levels, there are some mental ones that should be considered. First, people under high levels of stress find it difficult to concentrate. Thoughts might become jumbled, or incomplete. Add to that the frustration and anger normally felt under times of stress, it can be easily seen why undue stress has become such a problem in today’s society.

It should be noted, however, that not all stress is bad. In truth, stress, in small quantities can be beneficial. A small amount of stress allows us to test our potential limits, to grow and change to meet new challenges. One way to think of stress is like a weight on an exercise machine, offering resistance to our muscles. Too much stress (or weight) and the muscles or ourselves are damaged. But if there is no resistance, over time we lose our strength, both physically and mentally.

If you feel that you might be experiencing undue stress, take a quick inventory of your body and mind. Are there any aches or pains that can’t be explained away through previous injuries? Are you snapping to judgment and being more irritable than normal? Do you often feel sick to the stomach in a given situation? If you have answered yes to any of these, there is a good chance that the situation that you are in could be causing you stress. By learning to recognize the symptoms of stress for what they are, you can learn how to adjust your life to alleviate their impact.

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