Stress : Symptoms, Causes and How It Affects your Health

“I am under Stress”. How many times have you heard yourself say it? If the answer is too many times, then you need a break. Life is sneaky and unpredictable. At one point you may feel everything is fine and dandy. And boom! The next moment, it throws you off the balance. Some days are good and some are not. So, when you suddenly realize that something is not right, you may feel like losing your mind. And the reason for your response, STRESS.

Definition Of Stress

In layman’s terms, stress is the body’s reaction or response to changes. The design of your body is unique, so it adjusts or changes itself depending on the requirements. Stress is a part of normal life. You can experience it when something changes in your environment, thoughts or your body. So, even positive events like a promotion, marriage, childbirth, etc. can cause the response.

And your body responds to the changes in the following ways:

Psychological Meaning

According to the psychological definition, it is a feeling of pressure and/or strain. You feel it in dangerous or threatening situations. So, your body goes into the panic mode to cope with it. It happens when you feel the resources are not enough to overcome obstacles.

The obstacles may arise from

  • People
  • Situations
  • Stimuli

Importance Of Stress

Yes, you read it right. It is important for your life. Why? Because it acts as a motivating factor for your survival. When you feel pressure, your body goes into the “flight-or-fight” mode. Therefore, it guides you to respond to the situation.

If you count the emotions you like the most, stress will rate the lowest. But, the emotion exists for a reason. So, in small doses, the emotion has its fair share of positive features. The father of Stress Hans Seley (psychologist) calls it Eustress (positive stress).

The brighter side of the emotion is:

  • It acts as a great motivating factor to achieve your dream or vision. You may feel the urge to take steps that take you closer to your goal. So, it optimizes your potential and helps you reach your goal faster.
  • The eustress can act as a cognitive enhancer. Therefore, it will boost your cognitive skills to augment your ability. You may feel increased mental prowess that will aid in your academic and professional capabilities.
  • The stress can increase your focus on the particular task at hand. So, you tend to increase your productivity and memory power.
  • Eustress can produce adrenaline that will speed up your metabolism and increase the heart rate. Therefore, you may experience better endurance and enhanced reflexes as a result. It increases your physical performance by fighting fatigue and tiredness.
  • It becomes a pain when the mechanism gets triggered too many times, too fast. With several stressors attacking you at the same time, you may feel mentally disturbed and physically exhausted. Therefore, it causes issue/complications to your health.

Types Of Stress

Yes, it has different types with its own characteristics and symptoms. Depending on the symptoms, the duration and treatment are determined. The APA (American Psychological Association) has differentiated the types of stress.

Acute Stress

It is the most common form of the condition, which is developed from the demands and pressures. Therefore, you may feel challenged with the demands of the past or future. Although, in small doses, the feeling can offer you thrill and excitement. But, too much of it is tiring.

It is a short-term stress with less damage with symptoms like:

  • Feeling angry, irritable, or a combination of both. Depression is also an emotion associated with the condition.
  • Any muscle-related problems like back pain, jaw pain, tension headache, etc. Another common problem associated with the issue is the muscle pull, tendon as well as ligament complications.
  • Stomach problems like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome or heartburn, acid stomach, diarrhea are common among people experiencing acute stress.

It is the most common issue, which is easy to manage and treat.

Episodic Acute Stress

Have you met people who have their lives in chaos and crisis ALWAYS? They always feel something will go wrong, and unfortunately, it does. Subsequently, they suffer under the self-inflicted pressure and demands. And they have a lot of nervous energy.

It is easy to identify people with episodic acute stress as they have the following symptoms:

  • Irritable nature leading to hostility.
  • Persistent tension headaches or migraines
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Heart diseases or chest pain

The condition requires medical intervention to cure it completely. Therefore, the professionals may take months to get it under control.

Chronic Stress

It is the most dangerous version that can destroy lives. It affects the body, mind, and lives of people. The aftermath of the condition is havoc. People in long-term complications like poverty, unhappy marriage, a dysfunctional family or despised job are prone to the issue. Unlike other types, the stress is a result of the long-term situation with no symptoms.

The person suffering may show some signs like:

  • Have a negative view of life with no hopes or stop searching for solutions.
  • Suicidal tendencies or violent in nature.
  • Prone to heart attack, stroke or cancer.

It is difficult to treat the condition as the physical and metal resources get exhausted with the long-term grinding. An extended medical help, stress management, and behavioral treatment can bring positive changes.

Causes Of Stress

Every problem has a root cause. It is the major factor that causes inconvenience to you. In case of stress, it is known as stressors. It is the situations or pressure that trigger the physical and emotional response in you. Subsequently, the positive or negative events in your life can act as stressors and put a strain on you.

The major causes of stress are:

Internal Factors

It is the self-generated pressure, which results in you worrying about something excessively. So, you may have irrational thought (pessimistic in nature) about something.

  • Negative self-talk
  • Pessimistic thought
  • Inability to face the reality of situations
  • Lack of flexible thinking
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Attitude problems (all-or-nothing)

External factors


The external factors refer to the events that are beyond your control. Though with a positive perception you can overcome it, you may succumb to the overwhelming feeling.

  • Major changes in life
  • Work pressure/Academic pressure
  • Relationship Issues
  • Financial Problems
  • Busy or Hectic Life
  • Problems with Children or Family

Though the problem listed are common, the way you perceive it differs from the other person. Therefore, some may accept the challenge and thrive under pressure, while others may feel stressful.

Common Symptoms

Here comes the challenging part! Stress is a creepy emotion that sneaky up on you without warning. And the scary part? You may feel so used to the emotion that it will feel very normal and familiar to you. Subsequently, you may never notice the changes and its effects on your health until it is too late.

The common symptoms of stress overload are:

Emotional Symptoms

  • Feeling agitated or overly anxious
  • General unhappiness or depression
  • Irritability, Moodiness, Anger
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Emotional or mental health issues
  • Feeling isolated or loneliness

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Loss of focus/inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Negative thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Unnecessary worrying
  • Memory Issues

Physical Symptoms

  • Pain and aches in different parts of the body
  • Nausea or Dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Chest Pain
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent flu or cold

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Stress eating (eating more food or skip food)
  • Sleep deprivation/oversleeping
  • Neglecting responsibilities/Procrastinating
  • Not feeling social
  • Use of drugs/alcohol/tobacco products to relax
  • Nervous habits like pacing, nail-biting, etc.

Warning Bells

So, when exactly can you determine you have stress? Perform a self-evaluation and check if the following is affecting you:

  • You feel pessimistic about life. The negative self-talk is taking over your soul.
  • Taking a decision becomes more and more difficult.
  • You feel overwhelmed for the smallest reasons.
  • Your mind is constantly racing to make you anxious, angry, and agitated.
  • You feel ill or have some kind of health issue frequently.
  • Self-harming tendencies are sneaking in your life.
  • You feel unhappy all the time.

If the answer is YES to all the scenarios, then you need to take action immediately. Ignoring the problem can cause other issues in your body. To confirm, take test online .

How It Affects Your Health

The expectations and challenges of the modern world are quite high. It reflects on your state of mind and body. So, you may experience stress all the time, but the key is to overcome it. But, many people find it difficult to manage it resulting in health complications.

Chronic stress can disrupt every organ in your body. It rewires your brain, which results in making you vulnerable to different diseases.



The brain sends a danger signal resulting in high adrenaline levels. Therefore, it makes your senses alert and keeps you on your toes. At the end of the day, you feel tired and exhausted.

Respiratory System

Your breathing gets faster, which can result in a panic attack or hyperventilation. If the condition persists, then it will lead to emphysema or asthma.

Musculoskeletal system

You may feel your muscle getting tensed. You may feel discomfort as your body will lose the flexibility. As you suffer for a long time, it will result in tension headaches or a migraine.

Cardiovascular System

You can feel your heart beating faster and harder. It increases your blood pressure levels. So, in the long-term, you may get affected by heart diseases, stroke or inflammation of the circulatory system.

Endocrine System

The high cortisol level as a result of stress will always keep you on an edge with high blood sugar production by the liver. Therefore, the fight or flight mode kicks in due to the adrenaline. Therefore, it will result in getting diabetes.

Gastrointestinal System

You can experience pain in your stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or heartburn. The long-term effects result in the severe pain, develop acid reflux, or change in the eating habits.

In short, it triggers reproductive, digestive issues and speeds the aging process. Therefore, your risk of getting heart diseases, stroke, and cancer increase exponentially with the weakened immune system.

Preventive Measures

You can up your ante to improve the ability to handle stress. So, you can begin by making few positive changes in your life.

Regular Physical Activity


Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but also for your mental wellness. The regular physical exertion provides a good distraction from the negative thoughts. Walking, running, dancing etc. offers you a medium to channel your focus and ditch negativity.

Connecting With Others

No, not the social media. Talking face-to-face with your friends or family members can relieve the stress. The communication can trigger hormones to overcome the agitation and insecurity. So, the positive words and thoughts from others can soothe your inner-self.

Engaging The Senses

You can relieve stress from your life by engaging the five senses to induce peace and calmness in your life. Find the sensory input (from sight, sound, taste, smell, touch or movement) to uplift your mood. Listen to a song, dance, cook, spend time with an animal or see new places.

Relaxation Technique

You can control the influence of stress by learning the relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga or deep breathing. By practicing it regularly, you can increase your ability to stay calm. Subsequently, the reduced stress levels will help you enjoy serenity and happiness.

Healthy Diet


Food has the power to impact your mood positively or negatively. So, ensure you have a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can cope with the pressures of life with ease with a balanced diet. A diet full of carbohydrates, sugar, and fats (like fast food or convenience food) can worsen the mood.

Let Your Body And Mind Rest

Tiredness or exhaustion can increase the stress leading to irrational thoughts. Improve your sleep to ensure your body and mind gets complete rest. Therefore, it will eliminate the stress and enhance your productivity. With good rest, you can regain your emotional balance and make sound decisions.


You have the power to control and bring changes in your life. Draw a line and start making positive changes. Practice to maintain calm, tranquility, and bring happiness in life. Remember that you are your own master. Therefore, take control immediately. Simplify your life by eliminating the complexities. Ditch stress and clinch the happiness. So, make the right choice Now!

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