Basic Signs & Symptoms of Stress, It Effects on Your Body and Steps to Manage Stress

Basic Signs and Symptoms of Stress | Effect of Stress on your body | Stress Symptoms | Signs and Causes of Stress.

Stress affects everyone. Stress is noticed in almost every day activity like managing finances, coping with a challenging relationship, even when having a busy work schedule and when under pressure to achieve a particular thing. Though a little stress is a benefit to the body too much stress can cause you to be weak and make you sick mentally and physically. This symptoms of stress can affect your health in a way you may not know.

But the good news is that you can control stress. Stress can only be controlled if you know the signs and symptoms. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stress can help to bring your nervous system back to balance. You will also improve how you think and feel by taking the necessary steps to lower the harmful effects of stress. Stress management is simple when you know the basic symptoms and causes. Many people are so used to being stressed, and they tend not to know when they are stressed until they reach the threshold.

In this article, we will discuss what stress is, the basic sign, and symptoms of stress, effects of stress on the body and some common causes of stress. Do you want to know more? Read on to know about signs and symptoms of stress.

What is Stress

Stress is your body’s response to dangerous circumstance. When your body perceived danger whether real or imagined, a chemical reaction occurred which allows your body defenses to be high to prevent you from injury. The reaction of the body’s defenses in a rapid,  automatic process is known as “fight-or-flight” or the stress response. During this stress response, heart rate increases, blood tightens, breathing quickens and blood pressure rises.

The stress response is a way which the body uses to protect you. If it is working properly, it helps you stay energetic, focused, energetic and alert. In some cases of emergency, Stress can save your life by giving you extra strength to defend yourself or spurring you to hit on the brakes to avoid accidents. But beyond a certain point, stress can be really disastrous causing major damage to health, productivity, mood, relationships, and your quality of life.

Do well to follow our posts as we will provide simple steps to manage stress and reduce the harmful effects of chronic stress.

Causes of Stress

The common causes of stress can be classified into Personal Problems, Social Issues, and Traumatic events

Personal Problems

1. Health Worries

One of the common causes of stress comes as a result of the fear of one’s own health or a relative or friend.

When one experiences illness or loss control over events, it can lead to persistent worry about the current and possible future situations. In a self-contradictory way, the stress often caused by health worries leads to problems and even the body’s reaction to stress. General Adaptation Syndrom, can also have a physical effect as the energy reserved in our body is depleted to cope with a stressful condition.

2. Bereavement

It is known that the loss of a loved one is one of the most painful experience one can endure. Enduring the worry of losing a relative or friend can lead to stress, this is often experienced more if the bereaved person was a close friend or relative.

The events that take place during and shortly after the loss, such as funeral arrangement and end-of-life arrangements could really contribute to stress and it can take a while to adjust to not being able to meet or speak to the person, and accepting this new circumstance is often really difficult.

3. Relationships

Having an argument with Parents, spouse or child can also increase stress levels. Living together can even make it more stressful. When there are problems between other members of your household or family, it tends to cause stress, even if you are not involved directly.

4.  Financial Worries

Even when out of a recession, financial worries can affect one’s life and lead to unnecessary stress which can be a burden to yourself and those close to you.

Loans, the ability to pay off credit cards, ever increasing bills, being able to live comfortably and retire when we wish all contributes all contributes to a sense of financial insecurity.

Not being able to pay bills and Live a comfortable life, as well as the burden of having to support others financially, is a key strain in our everyday lives.

Whilst improved management of money tends to alleviate financial stress, the ideal situation of each individual makes a one size fits all solution to this source of stress seemingly impossible. If its left unaddressed, financial worries might have significant effects on our lives and could impact on relations with close family and friends.

5. Personal beliefs

Having arguments concerning religious, personal, or political beliefs can challenge you, mostly in situations where you can’t exempt yourself from this types of conflict. Major life events that can cause you to question your own beliefs can lead to stress. This holds if your beliefs are quite different from those close to you.

6. Emotional problems

Being unable to relate to someone, or wanting to express your emotions but can’t, can weigh you down with additional stress. Mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, only contributes to the emotional strain. Showing positive outlets for emotional release and treatment for mental health disorders is important for effective stress management.

Social Issue

1. Discrimination

Having a feeling of being discriminated can cause long-term stress. Discrimination may be experienced in the aspect of ethnicity, race, gender or Sexual orientation. Some people are victims of discrimination and the stress associated with it nearly every day.

2. Environment

Crime-ridden cities, Unsafe neighborhoods, and other safety concerns are associated with chronic stress.

3. Occupation

Research has shown that conflict and pressure from the job can be a major source of stress. According to the APA, it has been estimated that 70 percent of Americans experience stress related to their work.

Traumatic Events

People who had experienced a traumatic or life-threatening situation often live with long-term stress. For example, after surviving a rape, robbery, natural disaster, or war, you may experience long-term stress. In most cases, you might even have a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PSTD is a chronic anxiety disorder that occurs as a result of traumatic events. Research has shown that the estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD among Americans is about 7 percent. The disorder is found mostly amongst women and survivors of abuse.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Stress

Stress can affect all aspects of one’s life, including emotions, thinking ability, behaviors, and physical health. It is true to say that no part of the body is immune. But, because people handle stress in a different way, the symptoms of stress vary too. Symptoms of stress can be uncertain and can be the same as those caused by medical conditions.

The Symptoms of stress can be classified into different groups

Cognitive symptoms

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying

Behavioral symptoms

  • Eating less or more food
  • having little or more sleep
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using cigarettes, alcohol  or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Physical symptoms

  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heart rate
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds or flu

Emotional symptoms

  • Depression or general unhappiness
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Moodiness, irritability, or anger
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Other mental or emotional health problem
Of all the aforementioned symptoms, we will focus more on 11 of these symptoms

1. Acne

Aches is one of the most visible stress that manifests itself most of the time. When feeling stressed out, people tend to touch their faces more often. This could spread bacteria and even contribute to acne’s development.

Studies have also revealed that acne may be associated with higher levels of stress.

One study measuring the severity of acne in 20 people before and during exams showed that increased levels of stress as a result of the exam was as a result of greater acne severity.

Another study on 80 teenagers found that higher stress levels were associated with worse acne, especially in boys.

In addition to stress being the cause of acne, other possible causes of acne are bacteria, excess oil production, hormonal shift, and blocked pores

2. Frequent Sicknesses

If you are constantly battling with frequent sicknesses, stress may be to blame.

Stress may affect the immune system making your body system susceptible to infections.

In a study of 60 older adults injected with the flu vaccine. It showed that those that had chronic stress had a weakened immune response to the vaccine, indicating that stress may contribute to a decreased immune system.

In another analysis of 30 studies showed that an upper respiratory infection was linked to increased susceptibility linked to stress.

Further research on humans is required so as to understand the complex connection between immunity and stress.

However, it is a piece of a puzzle to decipher how stress relates to immune health because a weakened immune system can result from physical inactivity, poor diet, and certain immunodeficiencies like multiple myeloma and leukemia.

3. Headaches

Several stress-related studies have shown that stress can contribute to headaches, a condition designated by pain in the head or neck region.

A study of 260 people with a chronic headache found that in about 45% of the cases, the development of a chronic headache was preceded by a stressful event.

Another survey on 150 military service members at a headache clinic showed that 67% of the headaches were triggered by stress, making it the second most common headache trigger.

Other common causes of headaches may include alcohol consumption, lack of sleep and dehydration.

4. Changes in Libido

Stressful periods are contributing factors to most changes experienced in sex drive.

A study on 30 women to evaluate the stress level and measure their arousal while watching an erotic film showed that those with a high chronic stress experience less arousal compared to those with lower stress levels.

Another study made up of 100 women showed that higher levels of stress were associated with a lower level of sexual satisfaction.

Similarly,  another study pointing at 339  medical residents showed a high-stress level had a negative impact on sexual arousal, desire, and satisfaction.

There are other potential causes of libido changes example include fatigue, psychological and hormonal changes.

5. Decreased Energy and Insomnia

Chronic fatigue and decreased energy levels can also be as a result of prolonged stress.

For example, a study of 2400 people found that fatigue was associated with increased stress levels.

Stress may also disrupt sleep causing insomnia which can lead to low energy.
One small study has shown that higher work-related stress was associated with increased restlessness and sleepiness at bedtime.
Another study of 2000 participants showed that stressful events were significantly associated with higher insomnia risk.

These studies only relate to an association but do not account for other factors playing the role. More research is needed to determine if stress can cause a direct decrease in energy levels.

Some other factors that play a part in decreasing energy levels include low blood sugar, dehydration, poor diet or underactive thyroid.

6. Appetite Change

Having a change in appetite are common during times of stress.

When you are stressed out, you may find yourself either having no appetite at all or voraciously raiding the refrigerator in the still of the night.

A study of college students found that 70 percent reported that they had experienced changes in appetite when they felt stressed out. Of these 50 had the increment of appetite, while 20 experienced a decline.

These changes in appetite can also cause fluctuation in weight during stressful periods. For example, a study of 1000 people found out that stress contributed to weight gain in overweight adults.
Other possible causes of appetite changes include the use of some medications or drugs, psychological conditions, and certain medications or drugs.

6. Depression

Some studies have come up with suggestions that chronic stress could contribute to the development of depression.

A study of 800 women who had major depression found out that the inception of depression came as a result of both acute and chronic stress.
Another study on 200 adolescents shows that a higher level of stress level was associated with a higher level of depressive symptoms.
Additionally, in a study of 30 people with non-chronic major depression, it was found that stressful life events were significantly associated with depressive episodes.
Besides stress, other prospective contributors to depression include hormone levels, family history, environmental factors, and even certain medications.

7. Chronic Pain

Aches and pains are common conditions that result from increased levels of stress.

A study made up of 30 teenagers having sickle cell disease showed that higher levels of daily stress were associated with increases in same-day pain levels.
Other related studies have shown that an increased level of hormone cortisol may be correlated with chronic pain.
For example, a study comparing 20 people with chronic back pain to a control group found that those with chronic pain have a higher level of cortisol.
Have in mind that these studies only show an association but does not look at other factors that may be involved. Again, it is a little bit obscure if stress contributes to chronic pain or vice versa, or if there may be another contributing factor.
Apart from stress, other factors that contribute to chronic pain are conditions such as injuries, poor posture, aging and nerve damage.

 

8. Changes in Libido

Many people seem to experience changes in sex drive when they are going through stressful periods.

A study on 30 women to evaluate the stress level of 30 women and measure their arousal while watching erotic films showed that those with a high level of chronic stress experienced less arousal when compared to those experiencing higher stress level.

Another recent study on 100 women showed that higher levels of stress were linked with lower levels of sexual activity.

There are many other factors apart from stress that can cause changes in Libido, they include, fatigue hormonal change, and psychological causes.

9. Rapid Heartbeat

An increased heart rate and fast heartbeat can also be a symptom of high-stress levels.

A study measuring heart rate response to stressful and non-stressful events showed that heart rate was significantly higher when going through stressful conditions.

In a related study of 80 students exposed to stressful task was found to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Interestingly, playing relaxing music when carrying out this task actually helped in preventing these changes.

A rapid heartbeat may also be caused by high blood pressure, certain heart condition, thyroid disease and by drinking a large amount of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.

10. Digestive Issues

Digestive problems like constipation and diarrhea can also result from high levels of stress.

For example, an examination on 2500 children found out that exposure to stressful events was associated with an increased risk of constipation.

Stress mostly affect those with digestive disorders such as Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or Irritable bowel disease (IBD). These are identified by stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating and constipation.

In a study, higher stress levels were associated with increased digestive pain in 170 women with IBS.

Additionally, an analysis of 20 studies investigating the role of stress on inflammatory bowel disease showed that 70 percent of studies found a relationship between stress and digestive symptoms.

Although from these studies, there is a relationship between stress and digestive issues, more studies are needed to look at how stress can directly impact the digestive system.

Also, don’t forget that they are other factors that can cause digestive issues such as dehydration, diet, physical activity levels, infections, diet or certain medications.

11. Sweating

Getting exposed to stress can also cause sweating.

A small study looking at people with palmar hyperhidrosis, a condition characterized by excess sweating in the hands. The study checked their rate of sweating throughout the with a scale of 0-10.

Stress and exercise both undoubtedly increased the rate of sweating by two to six points in those with palmar hyperhidrosis, as well as in the control group.

Another study showed that being exposed to stress resulted in high amounts of sweating and odor in 50 teenagers.

Excess sweating can also be caused by other factors apart from stress, they are exhaustion, anxiety, thyroid conditions and the use of certain medications.

Effects of Stress on Human Body

Even though it has been claimed by researchers that a little stress is good for us, because it motivates and makes us more productive, a large amount of stress can be harmful showing a negative effect on our body on the long run.

Many of us lead stressful lives and we feel its effect every day. An excess strain on our bodies and constant stress could lead to a series of illnesses. Piled up stress could be the underlying cause to a large number of ailments.

1, Increased Blood Pressure

It is a well-known fact that stress raises outpouring of hormones and cause blood pressure to temporarily spike up. Researchers are not sure if stress can actually cause a long-term increase in blood pressure but they have managed to connect some unhealthy living habits like consumption of alcohol and fatty food to this increase.

Exercising at least 2-3 times a week can relieve a lot of piled up stress and even make us more energetic and productive. Going for a run or taking a long walk can eliminate a lot of harmful stress from the body. To combat the stress you could try some of these beets, spinach, celery, swiss chard, radish, kale, lettuce, and arugula.

2. Decreased Immunity

Under stress, the immune system tends to be suppressed. Consistent stress and immunity reduction can lead to infections, inflammations and other health problems that can result in a more serious condition including cancer. One out of every two men is in danger of developing cancer during their lifetime, as stated in the American Cancer Society website report. For females, the number is still big, i.e one out of three women.

3. Bad Digestion

When under constant stress, your digestive system is yet to be in distress too. This could lead to gas, bloating, weight gain, digestive disturbances, and even obesity which leads to brand new stress showing that it is a vicious cycle. According to the World Health Organization. 40 % of adults were overweight in 2017, and 15% were obese.

4. Increased Blood Sugar Levels

Over time, increase in blood sugar levels resulted in obesity, diabetes, nerve damage, vision decrease, and even kidney failure. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes was amongst the seventh leading cause of death in the US in 2013 and 2015, 9.3% of the population had diabetes.

5. Possible Cause of Cancer

There is little or no evidence that stress is directly involved in the development of cancer but prolonged exposure can lead to the development of some unhealthy habits that can cause stress like, overeating, drinking alcohol and smoking.

Also, experiments have shown that psychological stress can affect existing tumors o increase and even spread throughout the body. It has been seen that when mice bearing human tumors were kept under significant stress amount, their tumors permeated.

6. Stress Makes Us Dumber

It is supported scientifically that stress can actually drop your IQ. Researchers from a university in India studied cognitive functions during periods of prolonged stress and they discovered that it can also affect the brain in a negative way. When we are stressed out, several areas of the brain are struck: the hippocampus-responsible for memory, prefrontal cortex, responsible for high-level thinking, and the amygdala. The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain where most psychological processes occur.

When we are going through stress, these three areas become defenseless. Psychological stress can cause adrenal glands- endocrine glands above the kidneys – to release catecholamines, these compounds are responsible for suppressing prefrontal cortex. Simply put, they can suppress our ability to genuinely think in most stressful situations. The stressful memory is stored later in the hippocampus, and the next time we find ourselves in a similar situation, it becomes a combination of fear, avoidance, and non-thinking.

7. Faster Aging

If you are having stresses up over a prolonged period of time, your body reduces production of anti-aging growth hormones. Researchers have shown that the decrease in these hormones might lead to premature aging, this means when under stress, we age faster.

8. Artery Closing

Under stress, our blood clots, therefore, preventing free blood flow throughout the body.

Studies have shown that the arteries of monkeys exposed to stress were significantly more clogged compared to arteries in non-stressed monkeys. Clots prevent the blood to get to the heart and thus leading to heart attack.

When a person is stressed out, clots and sticky platelets in their blood lead to strokes and heart attacks.

According to the American Heart Association reports, every 40 seconds, one stroke happens in the US and it is reported to be the cause of death in one out of 20 Americans.

9. Decreased Sex Drive

A lot of research has been done on how stress can affect our libido and sex life in general. In a long-term, it has a big brunt on our self-image and relationship.

Berkeley researchers have done a lot of researches to check how chronic stress affects dysfunction in males and brings about infertility in both men and women. Around the world, there is more and more infertility, so as for stress.

A lot of women have difficulties in getting pregnant, the Office on Women’s health has stated that 6 million women residing in the US have difficulties getting or staying pregnant. The estimate is about 10 percent of the female population in America.

10. Stress Even Leads to Death

In Japan, there is a term known as Karoshi, this literally translates to “overwork death”. Young and seemingly healthy people still die from heart attacks. The Japanese linked these heart attacks with the stress that is related to work.

This happens because cortisol – a stress hormone – helps to bring energy where the body needs it, away from non-essential bodily functions. When the body is stressed, the immune systems tend to shut and the white blood cells reduce their number and this results to the susceptibility to disease.

According to scientists, a worker can be harmed by stress through the following ways:

  • It forces a person to make errors.
  • It can worsen relationships with colleagues and clients.
  • It influences decision-making, a worker becomes impulsive.
  • It causes us to ignore orders and instructions.
  • It lowers productivity.

Stress leads to even more stress! Activating our stress responses regularly floods the body with stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol to name a few. They can also cause insomnia, memory loss, anxiety, depression, and even addiction. Increased cortisol levels and over prolonged periods can lead to Alzheimer’s diseases in the ensuing part of life.

Simple Steps to Manage Stress

Stress management can be defined as all the spectrum of techniques and psychotherapies aimed at controlling the level of stress of a person, especially in chronic cases, usually for the purpose of improving our everyday functioning.

We feel stressed at home, at work, and on the road. Sometimes we feel especially stressed because of a bad interaction with someone, everyday hassles, too much work and getting stuck in traffic.

It is important to manage stress in life. Try these simple techniques for dealing with stress

Positive Self-Talk

Taking an honest look at things, we all talk to ourselves! Sometimes we talk out loud or just soliloquize. Self-talk should be positive (“everything will be okay or I can do this”) or negative (“I’m so stupid” or I’ll never get better). Negative self-talk tends to increase stress while positive self-talk can help to calm you down and also control stress. With a little practice, you will be able to shift negative thoughts to more positive ones.

To really make this workout, do well to practice positive talk every day, in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts. It’s a great practice to teach it to kids too.

Stress Management Training Activities

Emergency stress stoppers are those actions that help to lessen stress at the moment. Different stress stoppers are functional for different situations, and sometimes it helps to combine them. Here are some ideas:

  1. Try Taking a break to pet your dog if you have one, try hugging a loved one or doing something to help someone else.
  2. Count to 10 before you react or speak.
  3. Try Taking a few slow, deep breaths this will help your body unclench a bit
  4. Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the sitting room and back to your room. It will help break the tension and give you a chance to think things through.
  5. Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some prospect.
  6. If what you want to do is not urgent, sleep on it and just respond tomorrow. This works especially well for social media trolls and stressful emails.
  7. Try to break down big problems into smaller parts, also take it one step at a time, instead of trying to tackle everything at once.
  8. Go for a workout or do something active. Exercise is a great antidote for stress.
  9. Try to turn on some chill music or an inspirational podcast to help you deal with road rage.
  10. Try walking away from the situation for a while, and try to handle it later once things have calmed down.

Carrying out activities you enjoy is also a natural way to relieve stress and also find your happy place. When you are down, you can find pleasure in simple things like reading a good book, going for a walk and catching up with a friend.

  • Make art — draw, paint, color, or play a musical instrument.
  • Work on a  photo album scrapbook to focus on good memories.
  • Read a short story, book, or magazine.
  • Meet a friend for a meal or coffee.
  • Play a favorite sport like football,  basketball, golf, or tennis.
  • Do a hobby like knitting, sewing, or making jewelry.
  • Play with your kids or pets – you could take it outdoors if possible.
  •  Watch an inspiring performance or listen to music.
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Try to take a relaxing bath and feel the stress wash away.
  • You could also Meditate or practice yoga.
  • Do a home improvement projector work in the garden.
  • Bike ride or go for a run or to clear your head.

The key is finding your groove and making it a practice. You will be really amazed at how quickly you will start to feel better once you upset the cycle of stress.

Must Read Also

10 Basic Signs and Symptoms of Protein Deficiency you Should Know
16 Simple and Natural Ways to Fall Asleep Faster
14 Natural Ways to Control and Lower Blood Pressure