Understanding The Signs of Stress

According to the Oxford Dictionary, stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Though we typically talk about stress negatively, not all stress is bad. Eu-stress, or good stress, is stress from positive things. Like going to a party for example, may be fun and exciting, but it can still cause strain on energy levels, time and emotions. Stress can also cause us to work hard. If a test is coming up, feeling that pressure can help us study and try hard to perform our best. Imagine how it would feel if there was nothing in life to excite or challenge us; how boring! However, when stress reaches high levels, mental, emotional and physical health can begin to deteriorate, as shown in the image below.

The Human Function Curve (*Nixon, P: Practitioner 1979 )

In order to avoid these negative mental and physical symptoms of over-stress, it’s important to be aware of how stress is affecting you. There are many tough challenges teens face today that cause stress.  To understand why you feel stress, you need to better understand the underlying signs of strain to manage the level of stress. There are four main categories in which you may experience signs of stress. These categories include cognitive, behavioral, emotional and physical signs. The following vital signs might indicate that you are just too stressed out:

Cognitive:

  • Forgetfulness 
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Poor judgment 
  • Racing thoughts 
  • Excessive worrying 

Behavioral: 

  • Substance use 
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Binge eating or restrictive eating 
  • Procrastinating or being neglectful of responsibilities 
  • Social Isolation

Emotional: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Irritability or agitation 
  • Loneliness or Isolation
  • Mood swings 

Physical:

  • Prone to frequent colds/infections
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Headaches 
  • Chest pain 
  • Rapid heart 

If you see any of the above, it is important to take time to address your concerns and worries. Stress can play a negative role in your health, especially as you develop into adulthood. Early detection of stress and healthy coping strategies can help avoid unhealthy and detrimental consequences.

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