How To Recognize Symptoms of Stress

Recognizing symptoms of stress is the first step to relieving your stress; there are many techniques to use, but none will be effective if you never recognize you are stressed.

Do you recognize the symptoms of stress? It can be hard to know how to recognize stress symptoms. They come in every description, and sometimes it's difficult to recognize which symptoms actually are a result of stress, and which come from disease. Since three-quarters of all doctor visits are estimated to be a result of stress, it seems reasonable to reduce stress, whether or not you think you it's affecting your health.

Humans have evolved with hardwired, specific responses to danger or threats. The sympathetic nervous system, designed to react automatically to lions and tigers, shuts down digestion and diverts blood from the core of the body to the extremities and the brain. Arm muscles gain strength (if they needed to fight) and legs become energized (in order to flee). Perception becomes keener.

With these changes, early humans would either escape the danger, or be eaten.  If they escaped, the danger would pass, and the "relaxation response," part of the nervous system that releases another kind of hormone, would kick in, allowing organs, tissues, and mental and emotional systems to rest and repair.

The big difference between life as early primitive people and modern people in advanced societies is that the modern version of the lion stalking us never goes away. No matter which way we turn, we are stimulated with the thrill, danger, and needs of modern life. Some of us keep that stimulated feeling by drinking coffee and going over the details of the next big deal all day long, never seeking a moment of silence in our busy days.

This causes a constant flow of the stress hormones, which eventually become corrosive. Stress is recognized in various symptoms, from frequent colds to back pain; even arthritis has components of stress.

Today we recognize the symptoms of stress in the feeling of having no control over intolerable, relentless conditions. When we feel helpless to make our situation better, stress, and frequently depression result.

However, when we take steps to interrupt the fight-or-flight response, we signal the nervous system's relaxation response to activate the rest and repair hormones, turning off the fight-or-flight hormones. A very simple method of doing this is simply to take a deep breath, down into your belly. Let it be long, and deep, easy and relaxed. This simple act will help reduce the stress response; doing it often enough may save your health.


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