The Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Stress

Stress is the body’s natural reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts with physical, mental and emotional stress. Stress is a normal part of life. Things around us and things we do can put stress on the body. Stress is experienced from the environment, the body and our thoughts. The human body is designed to experience stress and to react to it.

Positive stress keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger. Negative stress on the other hand is when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. This type of continuous stress causes a condition called distress which is a reaction to negative stress.

Negative stress disturbs the body’s internal balance or equilibrium. This leads to physical symptoms such as sleep disturbances, back, shoulder and neck pain, tension and migraine headaches, hair loss, muscle tension, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea, weight gain or weight loss, eating disorders, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat or palpitations, chest pain, upset or acid stomach, cramps, heartburn, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, sweaty palms or hands, cold hands or feet, skin problems such as hives, eczema, psoriasis, tics and itching, periodontal disease, jaw pain, reproductive problems, immune system suppression such as more cold, flu or infections and growth inhibition.

Stress can also cause emotional symptoms and relational symptoms. Emotional symptoms include nervousness, anxiety, depression, moodiness, “butterflies”, irritability, frustration, memory problems, lack of concentration, trouble thinking clearly, feeling out of control, substance abuse, phobias and overreactions. Relational symptoms include increased arguments, isolation from social activities, conflict with co-workers or employers, frequent job changes, road rage, domestic or work place violence and overreactions. Stress can often cause rapid deterioration of relationships with family, friends, co-workers or even strangers.

Possible causes of stress can be from the state of the country, world or any community to which a person belongs, unpredictable events, the environment in which a person lives or works, work itself and family. Stress can also come from a persons own irresponsible behavior, poor health habits, negative attitudes and feelings, unrealistic expectations and perfectionism.

There are three different kinds of stress. Acute Stress, Episodic Stress and Chronic Stress. Acute Stress results from the demands and pressures of recent, past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future. Acute stress may feel almost exciting, but too much eventually becomes exhausting on the body, mind and spirit.

Episodic Stress is experienced by those who experience acute stress frequently. A person experiencing episodic stress lives a life that feels as if it is in perpetual crisis, chaotic and out of control. A person is likely experiencing episodic stress if they are always rushing and always late, take on too much, feel over-aroused, short tempered, anxious and/or tense most of the time, have nervous energy and worry all the time about everything.

Chronic stress wears a person down day after day and year after year. It seems as if it is endless. The common causes of chronic stress are poverty and financial worries, dysfunctional families, caring for a chronically ill family member, feeling trapped in unhealthy relationships or career choices, long-term unemployment, personal belief systems and traumatic experiences. Chronic stress goes on for so long that it often is not recognized by those experiencing it.

Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death which include heart disease, lung ailments, cancer, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. Forty-three percent of adults suffer adverse affects from stress. Seventy-five to ninety percent of all doctor’s office visits are from stress-related ailments and complaints. It is impossible to completely rid your life of stress therefore learning to cope with stress is the body’s only defense.

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