Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
Identifying And Easing Anxiety
It’s possible to become so fixated on the physical effects from your anxious state that you don’t even realize you were anxious to begin with, says Dr. Barsky. So, how do you know if anxiety is causing your symptoms? And if it is, how can you feel better? Dr. Barsky offers some tips to help you interrupt this cycle.
Stop and assess. “The first step is to pause for a second and observe what’s going on with your body,” says Dr. Barsky. Think about what you are experiencing and whether it relates to a feeling of emotional upset or a reaction to something alarming or stressful. If your symptoms followed a stressful event or period of time, it’s possible these emotions triggered your symptoms. Also, be alert to signs that you are tensing your muscles, which can also indicate a stress reaction.
Relax your body or work it. To relieve stress, try some deep breathing or relaxation exercises. There are numerous online resources and smartphone apps that can help guide you through relaxation techniques. Physical activity can also help you relieve tension. Try to squeeze in a daily walk or a run.
Reassure yourself. If you believe your symptoms are being caused by anxiety, reassure yourself that what you are experiencing is not harmful or fatal. “They’re not serious, and they don’t signal an impending medical disaster,” says Dr. Barsky. The symptoms will pass when the anxiety eases.
Tense Or Tight Muscles
Tense shoulders or a sore and tight neck are common physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. Just as you can shake or tremble with anxiety, sometimes everything in your body seems to tense up. This could be from both a disruption in nerve cell communication and in electrolyte balance. If youve ever been involved in endurance sports, you know that you need more than just water. You need the right balance of sodium and potassium to keep your fluid balance within a safe, healthy range. When youre out of balance, muscle cramps are often your first warning sign before things start getting out of hand.
High cortisol depletes our bodies of potassium, a relaxing electrolyte, and retains sodium, which promotes tension. Its diuretic effect may also lead to faster magnesium loss, another relaxant electrolyte thats great for muscle cramps when youre deficient. This is also why one of the physical side effects of anxiety is high blood pressure, as the muscles in your arteries tense up as well.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Too Much Stress
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain caused by adverse circumstances.
At one point or another, most people deal with feelings of stress. In fact, one study found that 33% of adults reported experiencing high levels of perceived stress (
The condition is associated with a long list of physical and mental symptoms.
This article will look at 11 common signs and symptoms of stress.
Things You Should Know About Stress
Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but what is stress? How does it affect your overall health? And what can you do to manage your stress?
Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Any type of challengesuch as performance at work or school, a significant life change, or a traumatic eventcan be stressful.
Stress can affect your health. It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stressors, so you know when to seek help.
Here are five things you should know about stress.
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Services For Stress Management
If youre struggling with stress symptoms, or want to know which stress management techniques are best for you, our stress management experts can help.
We offer a variety of behavioral health resources to help you deal with stress. Our licensed therapists and counselors can help you create a personalized treatment plan that addresses the causes of stress while relieving symptoms and helping you manage stress in a healthier way.
To schedule an appointment with one of our professionals, call .
Simple Ways To Manage Stress
If stress is negatively impacting your life, there are steps you can take to find lasting stress relief. Here are 12 stress management techniques you can do on your own, or with the help of family, friends or a therapist:
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Improving Your Ability To Handle Stress
Get moving. Upping your activity level is one tactic you can employ right now to help relieve stress and start to feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully .
Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when youre feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who improve your mood and dont let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you dont have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
Engage your senses. Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your sensessight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
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Causes & Risk Factors
Stress often results if a person feels that there are high pressures or demands, that there is a threat to their well-being or that they don’t have enough resources to cope with the demands.
Common sources of stress include a person’s physical environment , relationships, work, life situations and major life changes. These situations can include negative events such as financial problems, relationship breakup, difficulties at work or school, injury, illness or death and grieving. However, situations leading to stress can also include positive changes, such as work promotions, getting married or buying a house.
Because stress is a normal part of life, everyone experiences it. However, the intensity, frequency and duration of stress will be different for each person. Numerous factors can make the experience of stress worse, such as when people:
- have limited social support
- have difficulty regulating or balancing their emotions
- have difficulty tolerating uncertainty or distress
- lack self-confidence or do not feel they can cope with the stressor
- interpret the stressor negatively, so that they feel powerless, overwhelmed or helpless.
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Your Musculature Is Painful
Oftentimes,sore muscles occur as a result of tension.
When you are under a great deal of stress, your body responds by tensing up automatically.
This might progressively result in more bodily discomfort over time since your muscles are not accustomed to being stretched to that extent.
When your body is in fight or flight mode, it creates an excessive amount of cortisol, which results in increased tensing.
In the same way that grinding your teeth causes discomfort, you may experience soreness elsewhere in your body as a result of increased strain on your muscles.
While a nice massage or a hot bath may assist temporarily, you will eventually need to address these physical symptoms of stress and their underlying causes.
When Should I Talk To A Doctor About Stress
You should seek medical attention if you feel overwhelmed, if you are using drugs or alcohol to cope, or if you have thoughts about hurting yourself. Your primary care provider can help by offering advice, prescribing medicine or referring you to a therapist.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Its natural and normal to be stressed sometimes. But long-term stress can cause physical symptoms, emotional symptoms and unhealthy behaviors. Try relieving and managing stress using a few simple strategies. But if you feel overwhelmed, talk to your doctor.
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The Physical Symptoms You Might Not Realise Can Be Caused By Stress
We all know stress is bad. And we know what it feels like to be stressed.
Your brain is too full of thoughts, youre worried about not having enough time to do everything, you have anxiety and fear about your workload, home life, or romantic situation
But stress shows itself in more ways than one. The mental manifestations of this emotion are well known the racing thoughts, the never-ending mental checklist but the physical manifestations are frequently forgotten about.
Stress takes an enormous toll on the body and results in real, physical symptoms.
There are a number of physical symptoms that are linked to stress, with most people may not realising that this is the case, they might put it down to something else, says Abbas Kanani, superintendent pharmacist at Chemist Click.
Some physical symptoms of stress are: Chest pain and heart palpitations, muscle pain, shortness of breath, a numbness or tingling on the skin, dizziness, headaches, sleeping problems, feeling weak and an increased temperature along with sweating and shivering.
Out of these symptoms the ones that you might not realise are linked to stress would be weakness, muscle pain, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
Other symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and sleeping problems are thought more as common side-effects of stress, as these are most experienced by a person who is stressed out, especially headaches and sleep issues.
Government Of Canada’s Role
The Government of Canada works to help Canadians maintain and improve their mental health, including coping with stress. Within its jurisdiction, the Government of Canada works to:
- generate and disseminate knowledge, and support both knowledge generation and dissemination activities undertaken by other organizations
- strengthen the capacity of the primary health care, home care and acute care sectors to effectively deliver mental health programs and services
- provide leadership and governance
- develop social marketing campaigns
- conduct surveillance on health trends in the population
- In 2007, the federal government provided funding to establish and support a Mental Health Commission to lead the development of a national mental health strategy.
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Stress Management And Relief
There are many ways that you can help your mind and body adapt, and become more resilient to the negative impacts of lifes stresses.Exercise, dietary changes, relaxation, stress management courses, counselling, and medications can all play a role in managing, relieving or coping with stress.Exercise and Diet
Diet and exercise often play a central role in the relief of stress. It is important to eat a balanced healthy diet and avoid foods that may increase stress, eg: coffee, tea, and foods high in sugar. Exercise helps to release built up tension and increases fitness. This, in turn, increases the bodys ability to deal with stress and helps to avoid the damage to our health that prolonged stress can cause. Exercise should be undertaken at least three times a week to be of most benefit. If you are not used to exercise, discuss this with a doctor prior to commencing an exercise programme. Relaxation and mindfulness
Discussing concerns with an impartial person may assist with recognising stressors and deciding upon strategies to deal with them. This could be a professional therapist or a trusted family member, friend or colleague. Often the process of discussing a concern is enough to reduce the stress it is causing. Getting help should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Knowing when to ask for help may be one of the changes necessary to deal with stress more appropriately.Medications
Immune And Reproductive Systems
Research has shown the negative effect stress can have on the immune system. In short bursts, the stress hormone cortisol can boost immunity by limiting inflammation, but over longer periods of time, too much cortisol can lead to more inflammation.
Stress can also affect the immune system because it can reduce the effectiveness of white blood cells, which fight off viruses and bacteria.
The release of stress hormones also impacts the reproductive system. Cortisol affects how much oestrogen and progesterone your body makes, which regulates your menstrual cycle. If you’re stressed and have increased levels of cortisol, it can lead to irregular periods.
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Not All Stress Is Bad
In a dangerous situation, stress signals the body to prepare to face a threat or flee to safety. In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, and your brain uses more oxygen and increases activityall functions aimed at survival and in response to stress. In non-life-threatening situations, stress can motivate people, such as when they need to take a test or interview for a new job.
What Are Some Ways To Prevent Stress
Many daily strategies can help you keep stress at bay:
- Try relaxation activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. Programs are available online, in smartphone apps, and at many gyms and community centers.
- Take good care of your body each day. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep help your body handle stress much better.
- Stay positive and practice gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of your day or life.
- Accept that you cant control everything. Find ways to let go of worry about situations you cannot change.
- Learn to say no to additional responsibilities when you are too busy or stressed.
- Stay connected with people who keep you calm, make you happy, provide emotional support and help you with practical things. A friend, family member or neighbor can become a good listener or share responsibilities so that stress doesnt become overwhelming.
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The Effects Of Chronic Stress
Your nervous system isnt very good at distinguishing between emotional and physical threats. If youre super stressed over an argument with a friend, a work deadline, or a mountain of bills, your body can react just as strongly as if youre facing a true life-or-death situation. And the more your emergency stress system is activated, the easier it becomes to trigger, making it harder to shut off.
If you tend to get stressed out frequently, like many of us in todays demanding world, your body may exist in a heightened state of stress most of the time. And that can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
Health problems caused or exacerbated by stress include:
Respiratory And Cardiovascular Systems
Stress hormones affect your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. During the stress response, you breathe faster in an effort to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood to your body. If you already have a breathing problem like asthma or emphysema, stress can make it even harder to breathe.
Under stress, your heart also pumps faster. Stress hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict and divert more oxygen to your muscles so youll have more strength to take action. But this also raises your blood pressure.
As a result, frequent or chronic stress will make your heart work too hard for too long. When your blood pressure rises, so do your risks for having a stroke or heart attack.
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How Stress Affects Sleep
This infographic from Insider Living shows how stress affects sleep.
- 26% of women report trouble sleeping at least once a week compared to only 16% of men.
- 19% of individuals ages 25-64 admit to losing sleep due to stress a few nights per week.
- 54% say that stress or anxiety increased their anxiety about falling asleep at night.
- 52% of men and 42% of women reported that stress affected their ability to remain focused the next day.
What Are Some Strategies For Stress Relief
You cant avoid stress, but you can stop it from becoming overwhelming by practicing some daily strategies:
- Exercise when you feel symptoms of stress coming on. Even a short walk can boost your mood.
- At the end of each day, take a moment to think about what youve accomplished not what you didnt get done.
- Set goals for your day, week and month. Narrowing your view will help you feel more in control of the moment and long-term tasks.
- Consider talking to a therapist or your healthcare provider about your worries.
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