We all deal with the symptoms and effects of stress. The advancement of civilization has allowed us to live longer and more comfortably, but the price we pay is exorbitant. We feel alone and lost. We are hard-pressed, engrossed in rivalry, overloaded with an excess of duties at work. The enormous amounts of stress triggers around us make it impossible to escape them. Even good stress, if it persists for too long or appears too often, can be harmful. Therefore, it is necessary to seize the moment when stress begins to act against us.
- The most common physical symptoms of stress include:
- eating disorders (no appetite or excessive appetite, overweight, underweight);
- feeling a persistent chill;
- the appearance of symptoms of diseases, such as:
- problems with digestion,
- neuralgia (e.g. cardiac pain),
- shortness of breath, asthma,
- skin rashes, allergic reactions,
- chronic fatigue.
- Long-term psychological and emotional symptoms
Chronic stress affects many brain functions. It can lead to big changes in thinking patterns and limit the ability to deal with problems. The signs and symptoms of long-term stress include:
- various types of anxiety;
- feeling bored and discouraged;
- sense of isolation, loneliness;
- chaotic thoughts, lack of concentration;
- sadness, depression;
- insecurity, lack of control over life;
- mood disorders, such as:
- anger, hostility;
- irritability, anxiety;
- sleep disorders;
- looking for relief in alcohol, cigarettes, other stimulants and medicines;
- disorders in dietary habits.
People exposed to long-term stress behave anxiously; they bite their nails, have nervous twitches, cannot stay still, nervously play with such objects (like pens for instance), speak loudly and very fast; they feel weary and languid.
Stressed people are often in a bad mood, which is manifested by irritability, annoyance (they get worked up over the slightest thing), criticism, aggression or overreaction. Their effectiveness decreases. They lose objectivity and distance to many problems, they are tired and negative, they do not believe in themselves. Chronic stress also affects learning and memory. Distractedness can result in greater susceptibility to accidents and more frequent errors.
A single or an occasional occurrence of some of the above symptoms may, but does not have to, indicate a high level of stress. However, when several of these symptoms occur simultaneously, it is a sign to take a look at our situation and the ways we handle problems.
How to manage stress
We have the choice to let stress control us, or we can learn ways of helping us control stress. How? It is good to know yourself and find out what causes tension and how you react to it and then, where possible, reduce the number of worries in your life and change your behaviour as much as possible.
Acknowledging that you are not perfect and developing assertiveness (the ability to express feelings and thoughts), will bring relief. You should also need to learn to think positively and to believe that using the help of other people is not a cause for shame.
Never let stress accumulate. Talking to a friend and even crying out brings relief. After a hard day, you can take a hot bath with your favourite essential oil (e.g. lavender, rosemary or lemon balm, as these have sedative and relaxing properties) or get a massage. Such procedures relax muscles, improve blood circulation and allow you to get rid of excess stress hormones, namely cortisol and adrenaline.
Some people read books to relax, other listen to music or do aerobics. It is important to develop your hobby, to do what pleases you. Finally, special relaxation techniques can bring you back into balance, too.