Know the symptoms of stress and take steps to feel better

Picture of woman in pool for symptoms of stress article

Stress affects us all. You may notice symptoms of stress during busy times at work or when you are paying bills. And while a little stress may be OK, too much stress can wear you down and make you sick.

Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviors, thinking ability, and physical health. But, because people handle stress differently, symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and may be the same as those caused by medical conditions. So, it is important to discuss them with your doctor. You may experience any of the following symptoms of stress.

Emotional symptoms:

  • Becoming easily frustrated and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having dificulty relaxing
  • Feeling bad about yourself, lonely, worthless, and depressed
  • Avoiding others

Physical symptoms:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Frequent colds and infections

Mental symptoms:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgment

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
  • Showing more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble sleeping and eating can all be normal reactions to stress. Participating in healthy activities and getting the right care and support can help reduce stressful feelings. Some tips for beginning to feel better are:

  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Remember to check with your health care provider before beginning any new fitness program.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help with the stress. In the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.
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