Stress is a pretty common word nowadays, now that everyone is so caught up with their daily jobs. You may have experienced feeling stressed from all the studying you need to finish for next week's test, or maybe you're stressed due to all the deadlines you need to meet by the end of this quarter. Whatever the reason is, stress isn't to be taken lightly. When left unaddressed, it will eventually become a cause for depression, anxiety and even physical health problems.
How can you tell if a person is stressed? The symptoms are subdivided into four categories: (1) cognitive; (2) behavioral; (3) emotional; and (4) physical.
- 1. Cognitive Symptoms
- Constant worrying
- Lack of focus
- Poor judgment
- Racing thoughts
- Disorganization and forgetfulness
- 2. Behavioral Symptoms
- Changes in appetite (eating too much or too little)
- Nervous behaviors (e.g. fidgeting, nail biting, pacing, etc.)
- Increased intake of alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs
- Avoiding responsibilities
- 3. Emotional Symptoms
- Agitation, frustration, and moodiness
- Inability to relax and remain calm
- Avoiding social interactions
- Fear of not being in control
- Low self-esteem, depression
- 4. Physical Symptoms
- Frequent tension headaches
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitation
- Loss of sexual ability and/or desire
- Frequent muscle pains, tension, and aches
- Frequent grinding of teeth and/or clenching of jaw
- Nervousness (accompanied by shaking, cold or sweaty hands)
- Upset stomach (includes constipation, nausea, and diarrhea)
- Lack of energy
- Frequent colds
If you are looking for self-help as well as anxiety coping strategies you will find more here.
Every person has his or her own way of coping with stress, but not everyone knows how. If you think you are suffering from the symptoms mentioned above, and you're positive that it's due to stress, then here are some ways to help you cope and relieve yourself.
1: Take a Breather
Studies show that breathing in fresh air and getting a boost in sunshine raises your serotonin levels that help make you feel better. In cases when you can't go outside, having a small potted plant on your desk that you can look at from time to time can also help... nature around us can help ease our stressful thoughts.
2: Engage in Rituals
Our body naturally craves for a routine and by putting your attention towards completing these routines; you also increase your body's ability to cope with stress. Following a routine gives you a sense of control over your day, preventing you from giving in towards worry and tension.
3: Distract Yourself
Stressing over things makes you fall trap to a never-ending loop of what-ifs and negative thoughts. It messes up your mind, and leaves you feeling exhausted in the end. To avoid this, you can distract yourself by engaging in activities like painting, playing an instrument or even baking. Doing productive things with your hands soothes your brain and relaxes you in the process.
4: Get in Touch with your Spiritual Side
For most people, prayer and other religious practices helps them clear their mind and relax their souls. If you're not too keen on practicing religion, you can look up inspirational quotes or even paint spiritual images instead. It doesn't matter what you do to connect with your spiritual side; the important thing is for you to feel peaceful afterwards.
5: Visualize a Calming Scene
Take time to sit in a quiet corner to close your eyes and think about a happy place or a scene that you would like to be in. This activity called guided imagery actually helps in reducing stress hormones in the body. A good suggestion is to imagine a lush, green forest with nothing but the sound of birds chirping all around you.
6: Talk to Someone
If you love talking to friends, this is a great way to help you relieve stress. Talk about your problems and worries. Not only will you be taking your mind off your worries; you're also working towards building a good relationship with the people around you.
7: Play Some Music
Sometimes, all you need is a song to cheer you up. Take a break and listen to classical music, or if you prefer, today's most popular hits. Music can help calm the brain and can even lower blood pressure and reduce stress-related hormones such as cortisol.
8: Get Enough Sleep
Sometimes, stress can be attributed to getting too little sleep at night. Try to establish a healthy sleeping time for your body to recover from the previous days stress and weariness. This way, you will have enough energy to recover and face the next day's challenges.
9: Lastly Try To Eliminate Junk Food
Eating healthy is a great way to not only improve your physical health, but your mental and emotional health as well. Your busy work schedule could be the reason why you're skipping meals, and this should be avoided. Fruits and vegetables are always good choices.