Oncoming stress can be debilitating. When we’re in the middle of a high-stress situation, the last thing to help is the systematic response our body has to stress itself. Fight or flight response is triggered, the brain and heart are impaired, and energy levels deplete. Over time, stress can affect how quickly we age.
Some may even experience adverse stress symptoms such as a tight jaw, eczema, hair loss, psoriasis, and more. Science says that the effects of stress can lead to chronic illness or potentially even fatality over time. Stress is an experience that can be felt in many ways, as well as come about from many sources. This is why it is critical to know the cause before attempting to treat it.
Understand What the Stressors are Causing
Learning to identify your stressors in your life will help you to understand better how to avoid them, as well as equip you with a strategy for alleviating them. The International Stress Management Association offers some guidelines on singling out the reasons you’re stressed.
They recommend observing signs from a psychological, emotional, physical, and behavioral standpoint. Here are some examples of each type of symptom, but keep in mind that symptom details vary from person to person and are not limited to these.
- Psychological signs: Difficulty with concentration and decision making, vagueness, excessive worry, negative thinking, a decline in intuition, and creativity.
- Physical symptoms: Body aches and pains, weight loss or gain, digestive problems, panic attacks, nausea, allergies, and exhaustion.
- Behavioral signs: Little time for personal interest or rest, insomnia, recklessness, nervousness, forgetfulness, social withdrawal, and poor time management.
- Emotional symptoms: Irritability, mood swings, frustration, anger, low self-esteem, defensiveness, and sensitivity to criticism.
Determine the Root Cause
Once you’re able to determine which symptoms of stress you experience, the root cause of them will become more evident. Be mindful of what occurs when you experience the feelings of stress, and when exactly it happens.
Types of Causes
According to the American Psychological Association, money and finances are the leading cause of stress in the United States. Money problems followed by work, the economy, family responsibilities, and personal health concerns.
Surveying the aspects of your life that stress you the most should come about somewhat logically once you’re able to identify and hold yourself accountable for the stress you experience.
Addressing Root Cause
The root cause for stress may fall into one of two categories: A physical thing that is occurring or not occurring, or your perception of what is happening or not occurring.
If it is something you can change with an actionable solution, this is different than if the work to be done is mental. In both cases, being realistic with the possibility that the stressor may not change is beneficial. However, when a stressor does arise, work through it mentally by remembering the following guidelines.
- Don’t dismiss it when it occurs, acknowledge it.
- Ask yourself: “Why am I feeling this way right now?”
- Permit yourself to feel disrupted.
- Breathe and practice mindfulness.
- Accept that stressors are normal and that you are still in control.
- Let it pass.
Being stressed can stop us straight in our tracks, but if we’re strategic and aware of its effect on us—we can work to limit its negative impact.