So You’re Showing Signs of Stress: Ways to Cope with Emotional Symptoms of Stress and Physical Symptoms of Severe Stress (Part 1)

May 18, 2010

Practicing stress reduction by mentally taking control of your stressor and taking a breath free of a stressful situation can help reduce the effects of long term exposure to stress, namely those on your heart and muscles. If you still feel overwhelmed and experience signs of stress while teaching yourself to practice stress reduction techniques, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms.

While in the case of most illnesses alleviating symptoms isn’t a cure and may mask warning signs that the illness is worsening, in the case of stress the symptoms often feed back into your stress, worsening or complicating a situation. For example, if you shake and sweat when your stressed, and speaking in front if an audience stresses you, the added sweat and shaking will exacerbate your anxiety. So, when you take a breath to evaluate your stressor, also evaluate yourself. What are your signs of stress? Then see what you can do about it:

  • One of the worst side effects of stress is that it weakens your immune system. This leaves your more prone to illnesses, such as colds, flus, and allergies. Protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, by eating a balanced and varied diet, and by exercising.
  • Trouble Sleeping is a common side effect of stress—you toss and turn dreaming of all you have yet to accomplish, and you start awake as a result of all the adrenaline and other hormones coursing through your veins. If you’re having trouble sleeping because of stress, make sure that you take 5-15 minutes before bed to sort through all your problems, so that your brain doesn’t feel the need to do it while you sleep. Writing a list, or plan of action and setting it on your nightstand where you can add to it if you need to can help, that way things won’t circle around your brain all night.
  • Stress can have a negative impact on your libido, straining your relationship and adding to your tension. Try relieving stress while bonding with your partner: set aside a time for an intimate conversation about what’s bothering you, and maybe even get some fresh perspective, or just relief at having outlined it aloud.
  • Some people either gain or lose weight when under chronic stress. This can be due to poor nutritional choices, or increased or decreased appetite. If you are prone to weight swings when you feel stressed, keep a food journal that can help you keep track of how much you’ve eaten and what nutrients you may need, as well as what emotions you fell so that you can watch for patterns. If you have significant weight swings, or if you need help, consult a professional such as a doctor, therapist, or nutritionist.

If you are unable to deal with stress on your own, or you have increasing thoughts that are depressed, masochistic, or suicidal seek professional help. Your general practitioner may be able to refer you to a psychiatrist who can walk you through more personalized techniques for stress management and anxiety reduction.

Go To Part 2 of Stress Management

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