StressedContinuing this series on stress, today we’ll try to understand the physical manifestations of stress in the body and the consequences thereof.

We all experience stress, but sometimes we don’t realize when or how we’re feeling that stress.  Perhaps we’re too busy, too rushed, or too stressed to even feel stressed.  Usually in this case, thoughts and worries and the chatter of the mind have completely overtaken any sense of feeling or connection with the body.

The more frequently that happens, the more the mind-body connection and ability to listen to the body becomes broken. In these situations we can run the body ragged, leading to more illness (like colds and flu), adrenal fatigue or burnout, overeating, undereating, undersleeping, and total exhaustion.

To prevent that, we need to learn to recognize and monitor the body for the earlier signs of stress being experienced in the body.

Symptoms of Stress in the Body

  • Increased heart rateNo sleep
  • Shallow breath (difficulty breathing)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sleeplessness (insomnia)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Muscle tension (especially tight shoulders)
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion and/or tightness in the stomach area

Emotional Symptoms of Stress

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • AnxietyHow do you handle chocolate

Unconscious Habits as Symptoms of Stress

  • Overeating (or even undereating)
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use

When the body experiences stress, increased demand is placed on all the organs. For example, the heart is forced to work harder because stress increases the hearth rate and blood pressure, which increases the amount of oxygen the hear needs to do its work.  This happens as the arteries constrict, thus reducing blood flow to the heart and body, which continues to increase blood pressure. This is problematic because this is the time when the hearts needs it the most–during an active stress response.

It is under these circumstances–caused by mental stress and the consequences thereof–that people are 3 times more likely to suffer and potentially die of a heart attack (relative to those not under stress).

Therefore, it is important to recognize early the feeling of being stressed, the symptoms it elicits in your own body and emotional state, and to deal with the stressor or manage your stress response early.

Learning calming mechanism, relaxation tips, and other approaches for dealing with stress will be the subject of an upcoming post in our series on stress.  Stay tuned…

Until then, tell us in the comments,

What are the signs and symptoms you notice in yourself when you become stressed?