The effects of stress on everyday life are very real, and the good news is that many of them can be successfully treated. There are a number of conditions and situations in which symptoms of stress can become so acute that help is required to restore balance.1
So, how do you know if you are experiencing the effects of stress on everyday life and whether or not stress management techniques are required? The signs that stress is affecting your life include difficulty concentrating, feeling constantly fatigued, constant headaches, constant tension, constant stomach upsets, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, stress over money or other issues related to your finances, frequent illness, and chronic stress overwork or other issues. If you have experienced any of these signs for at least a month, you should seek medical help to determine whether your symptoms are related to chronic stress or another condition.2
What is Stress? How Does It Affect Me?
What is stress? Stress is a natural part of everyday life. You may experience stress from your daily environment, your mind, and your body.
Chronic stress is usually caused by the reactivation reaction of the stress response system in your body. A person may react to a difficult situation by increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and other bodily responses. A pregnant woman undergoing a difficult pregnancy may experience chronic stress because of the demands her body has to perform. The autonomic nervous system of the body has a built-in stress response, which causes many physiological changes to enable the body to better fight and survive stressful situations.3
Stress reduction techniques include learning good stress management skills, getting sufficient sleep, eating balanced meals, exercising, and getting moderate social support. You need to make sure that your emotional health is taken care of if you are going to use these methods to reduce or eliminate your stress.4 You must have good stress management skills in order to effectively reduce and eliminate your stress because people with poor stress management skills are more likely to experience bad stress and psychological disorders.
The Symptoms of Stress in America
What are the symptoms of stress? Stress symptoms are the body’s way of warning you that something isn’t quite right. Signs and symptoms of stress vary depending on the amount of stress you’re experiencing, but no matter what the stress level is, there are some common signs that everyone experiences. 5
Most people would swear by the saying “the little things really count.” This saying refers to the simple things in life, such as remembering your first phone call, or the way you felt after walking the dog for the first time. Small daily events can pack a surprising amount of meaning, and if you notice that you have been experiencing these small doses of happiness and joy for days on end, you could be experiencing part of the process of overcoming stress. Overcoming stress in your life will often mean having to take small gradual steps, building up your strength over time, until the desired results become clear. The following is a list of the most common signs and symptoms of stress you may experience.
The Cognitive Symptoms of Stress
You may notice that you become easily agitated when under stress. Signs and symptoms of stress may also include feeling emotionally overwhelmed, becoming frustrated, lacking focus, racing thoughts, irritability, experiencing sensory overload, or becoming sensitive to criticism. The cognitive symptoms of stress often occur when the brain isn’t processing information fast enough. If you’ve ever experienced an overload of information or an argument with someone over a trivial topic, you probably know what I’m talking about. This increased cognitive awareness can lead to arguments, misunderstandings, and even verbal and physical abuse.
The Physical Symptoms of Stress
Stress can cause you to feel overwhelmed, and your heart rate, chest pains, or any number of other uncomfortable things can occur. One of the most common physical stress symptoms is dizziness, which occurs from feelings of being out of breath. If you find yourself having problems with your breathing, chances are your blood pressure is elevated, and you’re feeling overwhelmed.6 Another sign of stress is sweating, which is typically associated with faster heart rates. Sweating can cause you to feel extremely hot and sweaty, which can make you feel uncomfortable in the warm summer air, and can make you fearful of going out in public.7
The Mental and Emotional Symptoms of Stress
Long-term stress causes a number of mental and emotional symptoms that can be difficult to overcome. Some of the mental symptoms include a constant state of worry about future problems, feelings of hopelessness, and even depression. Chronic stress can lead to feelings of guilt, irritability, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Most of these symptoms manifest themselves as changes in behavior and levels of functioning.8
How Does Stress Affect Weight Management and Emotional Eating?
Are you wondering if stress can cause weight gain? If so, it might be time to ask yourself: Does stress cause weight gain? Stress, of course, is a very common feeling that everyone goes through at one point or another. Stress can come from anything, whether it is due to an angry ex, a death in the family, job stress, or even due to school and exam stress. However, what many people don’t realize is that stress can be a leading cause for weight gain.9
Stress and weight gain are indeed connected, and not just since you might not keep your usual healthy regimen when you are going through it, but largely because of the impact that stress can have on your body. Unfortunately, nobody really knows what causes stress, nor does anyone know how stress affects the body. What we do know is that there is a link between stress and weight gain because stress can affect your metabolism in a negative way.10 This, in turn, can lead to weight gain because stress can actually speed up your body’s metabolism (and sometimes make it sluggish) and because of this, stress can indirectly lead to weight gain without you doing any actual exercise. Fortunately, here, medical professionals explain what stress can do to your body and the most effective things you can do to control your stress while you are going through difficult moments.11
One thing that many people are unaware of is that when we are experiencing stress, our bodies often release certain hormones like cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that stimulates hunger and can actually lead to overeating. So, it is important to recognize the fact that when we are dealing with stress, we might be putting ourselves at risk for an unhealthy relationship with food in general. This is why it is important to maintain a healthy weight management program and a healthy diet so that we do not have to worry about what we are eating, especially when it comes to our emotions.
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1 “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior – Mayo Clinic.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987 Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
2 “The Effects of Stress on Your Body – Healthline.” https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
3 “Stress won’t go away? Maybe you are suffering from chronic stress.” 25 Oct. 2019, https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/chronic
4 “Effective Stress Relievers for Your Life – Verywell Mind.” 29 Jul. 2021, https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-to-reduce-stress-3145195 Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
5 “Stress a major health problem in the U.S., warns APA – American ….” https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2007/10/stress Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
6 “Stress Symptoms: Physical Effects of Stress on the Body – WebMD.” 1 Aug. 2019, https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
7 “Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes – HelpGuide.org.” https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-signs-and-causes.htm Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
8 “Emotional Stress: Warning Signs, Management, When to Get Help.” 29 Dec. 2020, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/6406-emotional-stress-warning-signs-management-when-to-get-help Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
9 “Contact the NEDA Helpline – National Eating Disorders Association.” https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
10 “How Stress Can Cause Weight Gain – Verywell Mind.” 30 Jun. 2020, https://www.verywellmind.com/how-stress-can-cause-weight-gain-3145088 Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.
11 “Weight loss: Gain control of emotional eating – Mayo Clinic.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342 Accessed 6 Sep. 2021.