What is Stress?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus.
This is known as the “fight or flight” stress response and is your body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, stress helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.
Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.
But beyond your comfort zone, stress stops being helpful and can start causing major damage to your mind and body.
Symptoms of Emotional Stress
Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviour, thinking ability and physical health. No part of the body is immune, but, because people handle stress differently, symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and may be the same as those caused by medical conditions. It is important to discuss them with your doctor. You may experience any of the following symptoms of stress.
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless and depressed
- Avoiding others.
Physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear
- Cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Excess sweating
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth.
What are signs of emotional distress?
In general, the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress involves some kind of conduct that is so terrible that it causes severe emotional trauma in the victim. In such cases, the victim can recover damages from the person causing the emotional distress.
Can stress and anxiety cause nausea?
Since acute or chronic stress, fear, and anxiety can cause the body to function abnormally, they can cause a number of stomach and intestinal distresses including nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, “lump in the stomach,” constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and general stomach malaise, to name a few.
Learn how to manage stress
You may feel like the stress in your life is out of your control, but you can always control the way you respond. Stress management can teach you healthier ways to cope with stress, help you reduce its harmful effects, and prevent stress from spiraling out of control again in the future.
- Engage socially. The simple act of talking face to face with another human being can release hormones that reduce stress even if you’re still unable to alter the stressful situation. Opening up to someone is not a sign of weakness and it won’t make you a burden to others. In fact, most friends will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your bond.
- Get moving. Physical activity plays a key role in managing stress. Activities that require moving both your arms and your legs are particularly effective. Walking, running, swimming, dancing, and aerobic classes are good choices, especially if you exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move). Focused movement helps to get your nervous system back into balance. If you’ve been traumatized or experienced the immobilization stress response, getting active can help you to become “unstuck.”
Lifestyle changes to deal with the symptoms of stress
You can also better cope with the symptoms of stress by strengthening your physical health.
- Set aside relaxation time. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the fight or flight stress response.
- Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress. Start your day with a healthy breakfast, reduce your caffeine and sugar intake, add plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and cut back on alcohol and nicotine.
- Get plenty of sleep. Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally. Keep your cool in stressful situations by getting a good night’s sleep.