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  • Janine Miller

What are the signs and symptoms of stress that I need to be aware of?

We all experience stress differently in different situations.

So we all have our own unique collection of signs that indicate that we could be experiencing excess-stress.

Stress can affect us physically and emotionally, and it can impact our behaviour. Sometimes we can quickly recognise the signs that we are experiencing excess-stress. And sometimes it builds up over time and we don’t notice until we feel we’re at breaking point.

Below are some of the signs and symptoms of excess-stress. However, it’s important to note that having any of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you are experiencing excess-stress and there may be other reasons. If you are concerned we would always recommend you check with your doctor to investigate possible reasons.

How we might feel (emotional signs):

  • Excessive worry or fear

  • Increased irritability

  • Frequent low mood

  • Easily frustrated

  • Low motivation

  • Difficulty relaxing

  • Feeling of losing control or wanting to take control

How we might act (behavioural signs):

  • Over- or under-eating

  • Increased use of stimulants such as alcohol, drugs or cigarettes

  • Poor concentration

  • Forgetfulness and/or disorganisation

  • Poor judgement

  • Social withdrawal

How we might be physically affected:

  • Headaches

  • Rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing

  • Sweating

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Muscle tension

  • Chronic pain e.g. ongoing backache

  • Digestive problems

  • Susceptibility to illness

  • Acne

  • Decreased energy

  • Loss of sexual desire

  • Chest pain

  • High blood pressure

It’s important to pay attention to our own individual reactions to excess-stress. It can be helpful to write a note to ourselves that we check from time to time. Using the signs and symptoms above, write a list of how you know when you’re experiencing an overwhelming amount of stress.

First published at on 8 July 2020.

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