Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.
The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you'd rather be watching TV.
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.
It's important to learn how to recognize when your stress levels are out of control. The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal. You don't notice how much it's affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll.
The signs and symptoms of stress overload can be almost anything. Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways, and everyone experiences stress differently. Not only can overwhelming stress lead to serious mental and physical health problems, it can also take a toll on your relationships at home, work, and school.
The Effects of Stress on Your Body
There are important ways that your body lets you know that you’re struggling with too much stress. Watch out for the following warning signs:
- Inability to concentrate or complete tasks.
- Get sick more often with colds.
- Body aches.
- Other illnesses like autoimmune diseases flare up.
- Trouble falling sleeping or staying awake.
- Changes in appetite.
- More angry or anxious than usual.
- Memory problems.
- Seeing only the negative.
- Loss of sex drive.
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Nausea, dizziness.
Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.
Reducing your stress levels can not only make you feel better right now, but may also protect your health long-term. If you're not sure if stress is the cause or if you've taken steps to control your stress but your symptoms continue, don't take your own decision, talk with someone who helps you to understand yours behavior.
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