Best Way to Understand the Symptoms of Stress

Stress has a habit of creeping up on us unawares. Even when the overload signals – tiredness and irritability, headaches, waking up at night with problems turning round and round – are flashing, we often ignore them or just pop a few pain-relieving pills in the hope that that will take care of that. But the problem with ignoring stress while it is still perfectly manageable is that it builds up until you reach breaking point. By learning to spot the signs of stress you can take steps to relieve it before it becomes a serious problem.

Early-warning signs

The first signs that things are getting on top of you and you are overstretched may be:

  •  irritability, impatience, being edgy and uptight, snapping at others, tending to blame them for the fact that you are in a bad mood
Stress Symptoms Best Way to Understand the Symptoms of Stress
  •  oversensitivity, easily taking offence where none is intended, being liable to see things in a negative light
  •  feeling tired but being unable to sleep, or sleeping badly and waking up unrefreshed
  •  a change in your normal eating habits, eating either more or less, and often replacing meals and healthy snacks with fast food and chocolate
  •  relying more and more on alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs
  •  feeling sick, getting tummy upsets, diarrhoea or constipation
  •  nervous twitches and habits like nail-biting, scratching or knee-jiggling.

Mental symptoms of stress

  •  lack of concentration or attention, forgetfulness
  •  inability to think clearly, difficulty in making simple decisions
  •  loss of perspective, obsessing over details
  •  a nagging feeling of being under pressure of time
  •  mental exhaustion, burn-out.

Emotional symptoms of stress

  •  increased anxiety, panic attacks
  •  loss of self-esteem
  •  depression and negativity
  •  feelings of hostility and resentment
  •  moodiness, tearfulness
  •  lack of a sense of humour
  •  nightmares.

Physical symptoms of stress

  •  muscular tension and fatigue
  •  head, shoulder, neck and backaches
  •  tired eyes, muscle-twitching at the corners of the eyes
  •  dry mouth, stiff jaw
  •  sweaty palms, cold fingers
  •  indigestion, heartburn
  •  frequent urination, bladder infections
  •  breathlessness, erratic breathing, hyperventilation
  • heart palpitations
  •  frequent colds and headaches
  •  weight loss or gain
  • impotence, loss of libido.
Stress Symptoms 1 Best Way to Understand the Symptoms of Stress

Behavioural symptoms of stress

  •  angry outbursts and aggression
  •  non-stop talking, often interrupting others
  •  nervous habits such as nail-biting, hair-pulling, finger-tapping, knee-jiggling
  •  workaholism or absenteeism
  •  social withdrawal
  •  neglecting appearance or hygiene
  •  obsessive-compulsive behaviour, such as checking and rechecking that doors are locked, washing hands over and over.

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