A very important step in the process of stress management is identifying the different signs and symptoms of stress. We should be able to recognize the presence of stress in our body because we all experience stress in a different way depending on the factor that is causing it. Knowing how to heed the warnings of stress is a big step to stopping it from getting worse.
Responding to Stress
There are three different ways an individual responds to stress according to psychologist Connie Lillas and driving analogy was used to explain these responses. The first kind of stress response is called “foot on the gas” which prompts us to respond in an angry or agitated manner.
The overly stressed individual becomes heated up, intensely emotional, and becomes restless, too. The second type is “foot on the brake” or otherwise known as a withdrawn or depressed stress response. The person shuts down, barely displays emotion and shows very little energy toward the situation.
Lastly, “foot on both” (gas and brake) is a tense and frozen stress response. The stressed individual “freezes” under pressure and is not able to do something to battle it. The person appears paralyzed, as if the mind goes blank and the face becomes expressionless, but beneath that unresponsive look is an extremely tenses and troubled feeling.
Identifying the Signs and Symptoms of Stress
Since stress affects the body, mind, and even our behavior, let us recognize these warnings based on these aspects. However, it is important to note that these symptoms are correlated with each other. Remember, the mind tells the body what to do and how to act and instructs the heart with what emotion to feel.
The very common and easily recognizable signs of stress are the emotional symptoms. We tend to feel easily agitated and not relaxed. Irritability and short temper also build up. Then, you start to feel lonely and isolated. You feel you do not have enough energy to get things done. You also find it hard to simply laugh. Moodiness is also an obvious symptom of being stressed.
Cognitively, we start to worry over that thing which causes stress. Disturbed concentration occurs, especially when you are at work. You are not able to think straight and logically because the train of thinking is disrupted and thoughts start to race. Sometimes, memory lapses happen when you are stressed. Also, you see more of the negative aspect of looking at things.
Emotional symptoms are closely associated with behavioral signs during stress. Because you would feel down and lonely, you tend to isolate yourself from the people around you because you think that they do not want to talk to you or have you as a company. When you are getting mood shifts, eating habit is also affected. It is either you eat more or you lessen your food consumption. Sleeping habit and sleep patterns are also damaged. Nervous mannerisms such as nail biting and pacing back and forth would show, too.
The physical symptoms of stress usually manifest when the level of stress on the body is already overwhelming. These signs may sometimes be mistaken for a particular illness. Some of these symptoms are chest pains and muscle tension. The heart also beats faster than normal. In some cases, you would feel nauseated, too.
A General Feeling of Stress over a Typical Illness
When we start feeling low and sick, we may not realize it but it could possibly be the increased level of stress that is causing it, apart from a poor medical health condition caused by some kind of virus or other causes for illnesses, of course.
If your head is terribly aching, for example, you may think that it is brought about by your weak physical condition. But you will never know stress could be the contributing factor for it. The presence of stress has an adverse effect on the mind, body and behavior of a person.
However, if the symptom becomes recurring and complicated, it is best to consult a doctor for a more appropriate diagnosis. Then again, stress symptoms manifest more on the emotional and cognitive aspects of the individual. The physical symptoms may just be results of an overload of the stress feeling.