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Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Stress (Pt. 2)

Guest Blog by: Joy Hughes, a writer of health, nutrition and all things cannabis. Having experienced the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids first hand, she's been spreading the word ever since. She currently travels the country in an RV with her husband and beloved beagle. Contact her at joyfulpawz@gmail.com.

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It’s stress awareness month, and this is the 2nd of 3 articles to shed light on what stress is, where it comes from, and what you can do about it.

Tick, Tick… Tick, Tick… Goes the brand new clock.

He was placed on a shelf high enough for all to see, and everyday, members of his family passed by, glancing anxiously over at him to receive the time. He took his role seriously, and proudly ticked two ticks to the second as he was designed to do. 

But as the days passed, and the members of his family hurried here and there, the clock began to calculate just how many times he needed to tick. 

“Two ticks to the second means 120 ticks per minute. That’s 7,200 ticks per hour, 172,800 ticks per day, 1,209,600 per week for 52 weeks, and a total of 62,899,200 per year.” 

“It’s too much! It’s impossible!” he exclaimed. And without warning the clock had a full blown nervous breakdown. 

He was quickly taken to a psychiatrist who began to mend the clock back together. As he was working, the psychiatrist asked, “So what’s your trouble, clock?” 

“Oh doc… It’s just too much! I have to do two ticks to the second, which is 120 ticks a minute, and 7,2000 ticks per hour…” 

Have you ever felt like our friend, the clock? 

There you are just ticking away, when suddenly the ticking of life's daily activities, responsibilities, challenges, and demands simply become too much. And now you feel like you’re on the brink of a breakdown.  

Well, take a few moments and just breathe… In and out… There you go. 

You see, everyone experiences stress at certain points in their life, which means you’re not alone in feeling the way you do right now. 

In fact, let’s take a look at a few stress statistics… 

Stats and Facts About Stress

Did you know that at least one-third of people across the world report feeling stressed, angry, and worried? Can you relate to these feelings? 

Well, according to the American Psychological Association, 49% of U.S adults say that stress has affected their overall behavior in a negative way. 

In fact, over 20% of American adults say that because of stress, their bodies feel more tense, they’ve experienced unexpected mood swings, and it's caused them to act out of anger.

And if that weren’t enough, The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reported that the United States ranks as the 3rd most stressed-out country in the world.

Now, we’re all aware that 2020 and 2021 were a rough couple of years on planet earth. But now, more than 65% of Americans are stressed out over issues like the uncertainty of our nation's economy. 

But it’s not just in America… 40% of adults worldwide have reported experiencing extremely high amounts of stress recently.

With all of this stress, it seems that we’re now facing a national mental health crisis that could contribute to other serious health issues and social problems. But how? 

What exactly does stress feel like? 

 

Physical signs of stress

Symptoms of stress 

Because stress is our body's response to pressure, challenges, and danger, it can be hard to pinpoint what actually triggers your stress response in the first place.

The key to understanding where your stress comes from is to first familiarize yourself with symptoms of stress

The human body is a masterpiece! Scientists are still discovering new systems and functions within the human body. That said, there is one thing we can all agree on: everything in the body is connected

For instance, if you feel pain in your foot, it could actually stem from an issue in your neck. Or if you have dark circles around your eyes, you might suffer from anemia. 

When your body is under stress, you’ll likely experience both physical and mental symptoms

Physical symptoms of stress:  

  • Chest pain and racing heart 
  • Heart problems 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Weight gain 
  • Hair loss
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Exhaustion and fatigue 
  • Headaches and feeling dizzy 
  • Body aches and pains 
  • Feeling shaky 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Jaw clenching  
  • Digestive problems 
  • Low libido 
  • Weak immune system 
  • Etc.

Mental symptoms of stress: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Irritability 
  • Depression 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Sadness 
  • Feeling fearful 
  • Loss of concentration 
  • Forgetfulness and memory problems 
  • Etc.

Believe it or not, it’s not the stressor itself, but how you react to it that determines what symptoms you’ll actually feel. 

The issue with both the physical and mental symptoms of stress is that they often lead to self medicating and other unhealthy behaviors

This can manifest as eating disorders, alcoholism, gambling, smoking, addiction to shopping, compulsive sex, and/or drug and narcotic abuse. 

And since stress is subjective, meaning it’s not a diagnosed disease, it can contribute to other health issues and is often connected to many mental health disorders

So, here’s the real question we need to ask ourselves… 

Where does stress come from, and how do we recognize the cause of our stress?  

According to WebMD, chronic illness and injury are often major causes of stress. 

Traumatic events — like a death in the family, a car crash, job loss, natural disaster, or a violent experience — can of course cause stress.

Even everyday challenges — like financial problems, work or school related issues, daily activities, social rejections, relationship problems, or our own personal thoughts — can be the root cause of some people's stress. 

It’s like our friend the clock. All that ticking caused him to have a nervous breakdown. But as you’ll see in our final installment on stress, one simple practice can have a huge impact on how the clock (and you!) manage stress.

So stay tuned for our next article, where we reveal to you a few techniques you can use to manage your stress and cope with additional stressors in the future. 

Until next time… Take care, and remember, take a few deep breaths… In and out.

–– Naternal Wellness