by Kristen Troy
Most of us have said the phrase, “I’m stressed.” That phrase can come with a lot of physical, emotional, mental, behavioral effects. This month is national stress awareness month, so let’s learn about the signs, symptoms, and how to deal with stress.
What is stress?
According to WebMD, stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations – whether they’re real or perceived. The body will either go into “fight or flight” to prevent injury or go into a stress response. When we are talking about stress, usually we are experiencing a stress response, increased heart rate, change in breathing, tightened muscles, and a rise in blood pressure.
What are potential stressors?
The Mayo Clinic lists stressors in two categories, internal and external. Below are common stressors.
- Major life changes
- Your environment
- Uncertainty of life
- Social Life
- Lack of control
Signs of Stress
- Being easily agitated, frustrated, or moody
- Feeling overwhelmed or like you are losing control
- Can’t quiet mind
- Can’t relax
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling lonely, worthless, or depressed
- Avoiding others
- Low energy
- Upset stomach
- Aches, pains, tense muscles
- Frequent colds
- Nervousness or shakiness
- Dry mouth or difficulty swallowing
- Grinding teeth
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Overeating or under eating
- Avoiding responsibilities
How to Deal with Stress
Dealing with stress looks different for everyone. Some may seek relief through a creative outlet such as music, coloring, drawing, painting, writing, or other creative activities. Others find relief through a physical outlet such as exercise, yoga, or massage.
According to Harvard Health, exercise is clinically proven to reduce both mental and physical symptoms of stress. During moderate exercise, the body reduces cortisol and adrenaline levels and can help clear the mind. Additionally, a post-exercise stretch, yoga, or massage can aid in the physical relief of muscle tenseness that can occur as a symptom of stress.
Here are some more tips for reducing stress from The Cleveland Clinic:
- Keeping a positive attitude
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Exercise regularly
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Learn time-management
- Set limits
- Make time for hobbies and interests
- Get enough sleep
- Spend time with friends and family
- Seek help if stress still does not improve
If you are having difficulty finding a stress outlet that works for you, try out different methods. If the weather is beautiful outside, try walking or running outside. If you are a regular group fitness class attender, try taking a different class. The physical outlets for stress relief can help with both physical and mental stressors. Creative outlets can be a good way to calm and refresh your mind.
If you still can’t find a way to manage your stress, seek help from a doctor or psychologist.