Is Stress An Occasional Visitor Or A Constant Companion?

Stress is a natural part of daily living. And whether you’re dealing with a daily stressor, chronic stress, or a major life challenge like illness or divorce, stress can take a significant toll on you both physically and emotionally.

How Do You Know When You’re Dealing with a Level of Stress That’s Unhealthy for You?

The answer to this question can be tricky for a few reasons:

  • Stress affects the body in many different ways. Some of these are obvious, but others may not be as noticeable or easy to detect until they become more severe.?
  • Different people are affected in varying intensity, and in different ways.?
  • Because the effects of stress often look like symptoms of other illnesses (partially due to the fact that stress lowers immunity and makes us vulnerable to many things), people may mistake symptoms of illness for stress and vice versa.
  • People who thrive on stress tend to feel it as their natural state, making it more difficult to discern stress symptoms until after much of their stress is alleviated.
  • When under high levels of stress, people often find it difficult to stop and notice their body’s responses.

While stress affects everyone differently, there are certain factors that are common. If you are experiencing any of the following, it could be a sign that you’re being affected by stress:

  • Headaches: Certain types of headaches can be related to stress. If you’re experiencing more headaches, especially tension headaches, stress could be the culprit.
  • More Frequent Colds or Flu: There’s an inverse relationship between stress and immunity, so if you’re under too much stress, you may be getting sick more often.
  • Sleep Problems: There are many ways that stress affects sleep. Too much stress can rob you of sleep and make the sleep you get less restorative.
  • General Anxiety: Anxiety does serve an important function for survival, but if you’re feeling anxious much of the time, it could be because you have too many stressors in your life, or it may indicate a medical condition like generalized anxiety disorder. If you experience an increase in anxiety, you may want to talk to your doctor.
  • ‘Fuzzy Thinking’: Your body’s stress response pumps your body with hormones that make it possible for you to fight or flee quickly. When triggered in excess, this stress response can actually cause you to think less quickly.
  • Feelings of Frustration: If you’re faced with many demands at once, the natural result for many people is increased frustration and irritability. The trick is to find ways to prevent frustration and calm down quickly.
  • Lowered Libido: Stress can affect your libido in several ways. If you’re too tired for sex, or can’t seem find the time for your partner, this can be due to stress in your life as well.

Everyone experiences stress at one point or another. The key to managing stress is to recognize its signs and realize that the causes of stress are usually temporary. Remembering this will help you to put things into perspective.

If stress symptoms or root causes become chronic, see your physician about an effective stress management program that may include exercise, meditation or relaxation techniques, or even medication.

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