Stress Symptoms, Stress Signs

April 9th, 2010 by KiHealing1 Leave a reply »

What does it mean to be stressed?


Stress refers to the response we have when faced with a situation(s) that we may consider a challenge or a change or an adjustment of our normal balance. Stress is the body’s way of sounding an alarm for us. The situation may come from the outside world in the form of an overload of pressure or perhaps an internal conflict emerging from a strained personal relationship or from our mind in the form of imagined fears. Whatever the situation may be (and it could really be whatever) it is the thing that triggers the body’s natural stress response cycle to kick in. Have you ever heard of Flight or Fight? If you have, this is what the stress response cycle is often referred as.

There are three chemical ringleaders of the Flight or Fight response. They are: adrenaline, noradrenaline and glucocortoids. These hormones makes their way through our bloodstream.

Muscles, the smaller ones that we aren’t that aware of (i.e. on our faces or around the arteries) begin to tighten. Larger muscle groups also start to tense up; those we can feel more easily. Our blood pressure rises, heart rate increases and our breath rate goes up. Yes it does, even if we don’t even notice it happening. We burn way more energy than any ordinary day at the gym.

These responses can feel good, like an adrenalin rush, if it doesn’t last long. This is the body’s up or arousal stage of the stress cycle. When this response feels good we might feel excited, energized, experience mental clarity and carry an enjoyable buzz in your body. Sometimes people feel this way after a meditation or after physical exercise (the runner’s high) or even after a cup of coffee. But… if this feeling stays too long with, us it does have a dark side and be warned, it will not feel good anymore.

During the stress response our body stands divided like a nation in a civil war. Our body, a nation in an economic regression, acts conservatively with the use of its resources, and shuts off various internal processes where it’s okay to do so until it is okay to return to homeostasis (state of equilibrium). The immune system is restricted and energy storage and reproduction processes are locked down. Imagine that your body is a building that is experiencing a security breach and several parts of the building’s operations have to be controlled and adjusted to maintain security as best possible. For example, the thymus gland, essential for the creation of T-cells (white blood cells responsible for cell immunity), may atrophy under stress. The lymphatic system and the spleen (our sewage disposal unit) shrink under the pressure.

This kind of response is natural, healthy, good and well if the crisis passes quickly. However, it is not natural, healthy, good and well if you are staying in this arousal cycle and your body remains in a systems lock down environment.

If your body stays in a systems lock down mode, this becomes a chronic stress response. When is it okay to turn on the digestive system again? How long can the heart keep up with its elevated rate? If your body sustains these resource cuts for too long of a time, heed these words, they will become destructive.

Chronic stress leads to chronic high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease, kidney and respiratory failure. Burning energy too fast (think of someone seriously wired) may lead to cell damage and exhaustion that may lead to tense muscles that cause recurring physical pain and injury. Reduced blood supply to the digestive system and too much acid in the stomach produce an array of gastrointestinal problems. The immune system, our protector, our chief of security is particularly hit hard by the pressure of chronic stress. White blood cells drop (working to fight infection), making us more vulnerable to colds, viruses and leaving us open for attack of possibly more serious diseases. As we already know, a compromised immune system affects everything.

What causes Stress?

Stress is caused by “stressors”. Stressors are situations that trigger the stress response cycle. There are positive and negative situations, such as a rocky relationship or an event like getting married. Common causes of stress are:

External – major life changes, work, relationship difficulties, financial problems, being too busy, children and family

Internal causes – pessimism, negative self-talk, perfectionism, lack of assertiveness, unrealistic expectations, inability to accept uncertainty.

It’s important to be able to recognize when we are stressed so that we can help ourselves deal with stress and heal from stress.

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms

*The more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you may be to stress overload.

Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms
Memory problems
Inability to concentrate
Poor judgment
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
Constant worrying
Moodiness
Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
Feeling overwhelmed
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Depression or general unhappiness
Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms
Memory problems
Inability to concentrate
Poor judgment
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
Constant worrying
Moodiness
Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
Feeling overwhelmed
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Depression or general unhappiness

Top Ten Stressful Life Events

  1. Spouse’s death
  2. Divorce
  3. Marriage separation
  4. Jail term
  5. Death of a close relative
  6. Injury or illness
  7. Marriage
  8. Fired from job
  9. Marriage reconciliation
  10. Retirement

What can do you to begin to heal from stress?

Keep in mind that no singular method works for everyone or works for every situation. For stress management you will definitely need to create a tool box and will definitely want to focus your attention on what brings you peaceful and calm feelings.

For more ideas, see my Natural Stress Remedies posting.

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