Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic and alert. It helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration.
But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
Signs & Symptoms Of Stress
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Seeing only the negative
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Irritability or short temper
- Agitation, inability to relax
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Sense of loneliness and isolation
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Aches and pains
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
- Loss of sex drive
- Frequent colds
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Isolating yourself from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
Things that influence your stress tolerance level include:
Your support network – A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
Your sense of control – If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. People who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of their control.
Your attitude and outlook – Stress-hardy people have an optimistic attitude. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.
Your ability to deal with your emotions – You’re extremely vulnerable to stress if you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry or afraid. The ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity.
Your knowledge and preparation – The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
Long-Term Effects Of Stress
The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time.
Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
- Pain of any kind
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
- Sleep problems
- Autoimmune diseases
- Skin conditions, such as eczema
LSS Can Help
If you would like assistance managing stress in your life, contact LSS Counseling Services today at 1-855-334-2953 or visit our website at www.lsssd.org for more information. We can help.