Stress, unfortunately, is apart of life. It's a normal reaction the body has when changes occur, resulting in physical, mental, or emotional pain. Stress management techniques can help you deal with periods of stress in a healthier way. In this article, we discuss the symptoms and definition of stress and our favorite stress relief techniques.
Stress is normal reaction that happens to everyone. The human body is specially designed to experience stress and actually, react to it. When you experience changes in environment or challenges at work or at home, your body produces physical and mental responses.
Stress responses, which are hard-wired into us, help your body adjust to new and uncertain situations. In fact, not all stress is bad. Stress can be positive and keep us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid any sign of danger. It starts to become a problem, however, when stressors continue without relief or periods of relaxation and begin to cause wear and tear on both the body and mind.
The feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental, physical, or emotional pressure.
There are many common symptoms of stress, ranging from acne to headaches to trouble having sex.
Studies have found that untreated stress can lead to headaches. For example, one study that analyzed 267 individuals with chronic headaches found that a stressful event propelled the developed of chronic headaches in nearly 45% of cases.
Another subsequent study that surveyed 150 military men and women at a clinic for headaches found that over 67% reported their headaches were triggered by stress.
This is perhaps the most noticeable way that stress manifests itself. There are few different reasons acne tends to get worse during periods of stress. This includes:
A study that included 22 different individuals measured acne severity before, during, and after an important exam. The study found that increased levels of stress were directly correlated with greater acne severity.
Chronic fatigue and lower energy levels can be caused by prolonged and untreated stress. For example, a study that included 2,483 people—both men and women—found that fatigue was often associated with increased stress levels. This is because stress and anxiety can cause a "hormonal rush" that can leave you feeling tired and drained. Although this crash is usually temporary the feeling of exhaustion can last much longer and persist even after you have gotten some rest.
Consequently, stress can also disrupt sleep thereby causing insomnia which can also lead to low energy. This brings us to our next symptom of stress.
When stressed it is often much more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. One small study concluded that higher levels of work-related stress was associated with increased daytime sleepiness and restlessness before bed.
A separate study of 2,316 participants showed that experiencing a greater number of stressful events was significantly associated with a greater risk of insomnia.
Stress can take a toll on your immune system in a variety of ways and may cause you to be more susceptible to infections. If you feel you are getting sick more often than normal, stress may be a primary factor. In one study, 235 individuals aged 14 to 57 were categorized into either a high or low stress group. Over a period of six months, those in the group labeled "high stress" experienced 70% more respiratory infections and had significantly more days of symptoms compared to the "low-stress" group.
Nonetheless, immune health is a rather complex subject. A compromised and weak immune system can also be the result of poor sleep, an unbalanced diet, lack of physical activity, and immunodeficiency disorders.
More often than not people experience changes in their sex drive during periods of intense stress. One is example is from a 3-month long study that included 103 women. This study found that higher levels of stress were directly correlated with lower levels of sexual activity and satisfaction.
Likewise, another study that looked at 339 medical residents found that high levels of stress negatively impacted sexual desire and sexual satisfaction.
Digestive distress, ranging from diarrhea to constipation can be the result of too much stress. It may be especially harmful to those with digestive disorders such as:
One detailed analysis of 18 different studies that investigated the role of stress on inflammatory bowel disease noted that 72% of studies found a correlation between stress and digestive distress symptoms.
Changes in appetite can include eating too much or not eating enough. There really is no in between. You either don't want to eat or like most people you find yourself raiding the pantry in the middle of the night.
A study of college students reported that 81% of students had a change in appetite while being stressed. Of that percentage, 62% had an increase in appetite while 38% experienced a decrease.
Certain studies suggest that chronic stress can lead to or contribute to the development of depression. For example, one study that included 816 women with major clinical-grade depression found that onset of depression was significantly associated with chronic stress. It also found that stressful life events were correlated with major depressive episodes.
Other potential contributing factors to depression besides stress can include:
Beyond the 9 symptoms we have outlined above, there are a few additional symptoms of stress.
A stress test is a cardiac test that measures that heart's ability to respond to external stressors in a controlled and clinical environment. The test is induced by exercise or by intravenous pharmacological stimulation.
Thankfully, there are a number of natural and easy-to-incorporate ways to relieve stress. Such as:
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a healing approach that combines yoga and meditation. Developed in the 1970s, this stress reduction technique aims to address the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and underlying behaviors believed to increase stress and undermine your health.
Participants aim to cultivate a greater awareness of the present. By improving mindfulness participants aim is to reduce their overall arousal both physical and emotional and reach a deeper sense of calm.
Stress is something that all of us will experience at one point in our lives. There are quite a few different symptoms of stress ranging from acne to trouble having sex to chronic aches and pains. Fortunately, there are also many natural ways to relieve feelings of stress ranging from supplements to lighting a candle.