A lingering cough, an ache with no explanation, or fatigue that persists despite plenty of sleep — any of these could be symptoms of stress of which you’re not aware you’re suffering. It’s easy to think of stress in terms of its mental demands. However, stress also evokes physical responses from your body. Persistent stress means prolonged responses, and these can take a toll on both your physical and mental wellbeing.

While turning to a psychologist may not be your first instinct when suffering from physical symptoms, the professionals at Wellness Road Psychology can help you to recognize and release the effects of stress on yourself and your body. Here are some signs of stress to watch for and solutions to ease its impact.

Chronic fight-or-flight

You know the feeling. Perhaps you experienced it on a roller coaster or after a car accident. Maybe someone scared you, setting your heart racing and your senses heightened. It’s called the fight-or-flight response, and, usually, it’s a short-term situation, a burst of chemicals through your body that help you to react to a dangerous situation, whether it’s to run away or stand and face the danger.

Those everyday pressures you’re used to dealing with may not trigger your thoughts about the presence of stress, but they could be triggering your physical fight-or-flight reaction. These are real, measurable chemical reactions that are good in sudden dangerous situations, but that take a toll when there’s no respite from your stressors.

Reasons and signs

There are many reasons why you feel stress, and everyone has their own combinations. About 77% of Americans report physical symptoms of stress, yet only 48% feel that stress has a negative impact on their lives. These numbers suggest that many people may not realize how big a role stress plays in their overall wellness.

Among the most common causes of chronic stress are:

  • Pressure at work
  • Money
  • Health issues
  • Relationships
  • Poor diet
  • Media influences
  • Sleep disorders

These sources of stress can introduce physical symptoms such as:

  • General aches and pains
  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Sexual dysfunction

Physical symptoms can occur alongside emotional symptoms like anxiety or depression, or they can exist on their own.

Relieving your own stress

Not every cause of stress can be dealt with on your own, but you may find enough easy relief from some stressors that makes your overall stress load easier to manage. Consider the four “A”s of stress relief suggested by the Mayo Clinic:

1. Avoid

Sometimes, reducing stress is as simple as saying no to new demands on your time. It might be about adjusting your schedule to bypass things you don’t enjoy. For many, increased distance from toxic people is the answer.

2. Alter

Stating your expectations clearly can reduce pressure directed at you by others. In long-term stressful situations, altering the expectations of others can reduce your stress load.

3. Accept

There are things you struggle with even when you have no power to change. This might be a work duty or a person whose behavior you can’t influence. Acceptance is often the first step in moving on, to bypass the stress or seek further help.

4. Adapt

Resistance to people and situations might be the factor that causes stress. Adapt to that resistance and you may find that your stress fades. You have the power to change your reactions to stressful situations and to focus on gratitude. Your internal adaptations can affect the way a stressor impacts upon you.

When you need help to work through stress control in your life, contact Wellness Road Psychology at whichever location is more convenient. Telehealth appointments are also available, and you can reach both offices by phone or online. You can manage your stress. Find out more today.

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Phil Glickman

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Wellness Road Psychology

A leading provider of mental health services, offering a range of evidence-based treatments to help our clients improve their mental wellbeing.

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