When the Signs of Stress
Become too Overwhelming

Dealing with the Signs of Stress

Signs of stress show up in all areas of life. Stress manifests itself in almost too many ways to count. There are cognitive, mental, emotional, behavioral and physical ways that the signs and symptoms of stress control us. We can’t avoid stress no matter how hard we try. The "Life in Hell" cartoon above by Matt Groening of "The Simpsons" fame shows many of the physical stress warning signs, including trembling, the shakes, the sweats, dry mouth and panic attacks. This cartoon pokes fun at a very real challenge faced by millions or even billions of people every day.

Stress can take over our lives through negative or destructive behaviors including irrational fears, phobias, dysfunctions and addictions. We can be quite creative at generating ways to avoid our troubled and chaotic lives. Thankfully, there are just as many treatments for stress as there are signs of stress. These include:

  • Proper breathing techniques
  • Improved problem solving skills
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Counseling
  • Art therapy
  • Horticulture therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Writing therapy
  • Destruction therapy
  • Dance and movement therapy
  • Sound and music therapy
  • Contemplative prayer
  • Volunteering
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques
  • Bach Flower Remedies
  • Aromatherapy

It is critically important that people accept the reality of stress and that they assemble a toolbox of stress management tools to help manage inevitable stress. People must develop a concrete plan for managing stress and even leveraging stress to their advantage. It is not enough to assume you will be okay. Stress is directly linked to serious chronic degenerative disease and if not managed carefully, it is easy to end up with one or more chronic condition.

Cognitive Signs & Symptoms of Stress

  • Memory problems, forgetfulness
  • Inability to concentrate, lack of focus
  • Poor judgment, indecisiveness
  • Seeing only the negative, black hat thinking
  • Anxious or racing thoughts, scattered feelings
  • Constant worrying, anxiousness

Emotional Signs & Symptoms of Stress

  • Moodiness, extreme mood swings
  • Irritability or short temper, anger issues
  • Agitation, inability to relax, rigidity
  • Feeling overwhelmed, sense of drowning
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation, separateness
  • Depression or general unhappiness, extreme sadness

Physical Signs & Symptoms of Stress

  • Aches and pains, extreme discomfort
  • Diarrhea or constipation, gastro-intestinal distress
  • Nausea, dizziness, faintness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat, erratic beats
  • Loss of sex drive, impotence
  • Frequent colds, weak immune system

Behavioral Signs & Symptoms of Stress

  • Eating more or less, indulging, binging
  • Sleeping too much or too little, insomnia
  • Isolating yourself from others, protectionism
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs or addictive behaviors to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing, picking eyelashes or eyebrows)

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