Common symptoms of stress and how to manage them

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young woman under stress

Stress looks different for everyone. Sometimes, uncomfortable feelings, such as anger, nervousness or sadness can be clues that you are feeling stressed. You may have difficulty concentrating, find that you can't stop worrying about something, or feel really helpless or hopeless. These are also signs of stress.

How to recognize stress

When we are under stress, our muscles get a big dose of extra energy. This energy prepares us to fight or run. If we have too much stress, we don't burn up the extra energy in our muscles, our bodies become tense, our hearts pound faster, our blood vessels may widen and narrow and our bodies may start to feel tired or sick. These physical changes can lead to increases in pain.

Stress does not just affect your body; it also affects your emotions. Too much stress can make you feel sad, tense, angry and overwhelmed. You may get into arguments or cry more easily when you are stressed.

Physical signs of stress

The way your body feels can give you some clues that you are feeling stressed. Physical signs of stress might include:

  • sweaty hands
  • churning or upset stomach
  • fast heartbeat
  • fast and shallow breathing
  • tight muscles in your face, neck, or back that cannot relax
  • not sleeping well
  • headaches
  • low energy
  • nail biting
  • feeling shaky.

Managing your stress

Learning to pay attention to your body, your stress and tension level is the first step towards learning to control it. There are some simple things you can do to reduce stress:

Last updated: May 2nd 2016