What are signs that I'm overly stressed?

The early warning system for emotional stress is in the body. Observing the patterns of stress symptoms in your body can help you detect emotionally stressful situations quickly.

Symptoms vary from person to person yet tend to be consistent in each of us. Are you prone to headaches, backaches or stomachaches? Perhaps you feel shakiness in your arms, legs, abdomen, stomach or heart. Temperature changes such as heat or coolness, sweaty palms or feet, can also be signals that something is not quite right in a situation.

Once you identify your unique body reactions to stress, you can take action to address the early emotional stress symptoms before the reaction becomes unbearable or debilitating or before you say or do something you may regret.

Emotions are neither good nor bad; they are an early warning system that alerts you to danger. De-stressing your emotions requires awareness. Pay attention to your emotional symptoms rather than ignoring, judging, wishing them away or medicating them. This is the first step in understanding and taking action to reduce emotional stress.

Your body, based on past experiences, picks up subtle signs in a situation that alert you to danger. When some element in a situation reminds the body of a danger experienced in the past, it sends an immediate message to the nervous system. The stress response makes the body ready for battle or ready to run. This is your unique fight, flight or freeze response. The response activates your nervous system, making you physically ready to handle the dangerous situation.

The body readies a physical response, even when the danger is about an emotional fear. Fear of disappointment, lack of recognition, making a mistake or other emotionally charged feelings can summon the physical fear response. The sooner you recognize your fear response, the sooner you can address it and return your body to a relaxed state.

Being on red alert for long periods of time wears out the body. Some examples of long-term emotional wear and tear include ulcers, headaches, backaches, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.