The symptoms of stress are our physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions to life’s situations.
- The pounding of our hearts as the home team scores the winning point
- The feeling of frustration when the other team scores the winning point
- The boisterous hooray when we win and the angry curse when we lose
Levels of stress are categorized as acute, episodic acute, and chronic. Stress symptoms are often indicative of our level of stress.
- Acute stress is the temporary type of stress we feel when we step back to the curb out of the path of an oncoming vehicle or when the home team wins (or loses).
This type of stress is the most manageable. Our heart rates jump, blood pressures raise, tension headaches may ensue, we become momentarily angry, elated, boisterous, or resentful. We cry in joy, in relief, in frustration. The moment passes and we go on about or business.
- Episodic acute stress occurs when life’s situations get the best of us, when Murphy’s Law seems to be the rule of the day. One example is when we believe we deserve a raise or promotion, but don’t act on our feelings. Another example is when life spins out of control with one disaster after another— an illness, a divorce, and loss of employment within a short time span.
Symptoms like recurring headaches, indigestion, fatigue, and insomnia are vivid warning signs of episodic acute stress. We can avoid episodic acute stress by recognizing its warning signs and coping with stressful situations as they occur. Without attention, this level of stress can lead to chronic stress.
- Chronic stress is that which literally wears us out, grinding us down until our bodies and minds react with serious long-term physical and/or mental disorders. Chronic stress occurs when situations become impossible to deal with, when there’s “no way out” and we give up trying to overcome adversity.
Unfortunately, once stress becomes chronic, long ignored symptoms become invisible. Grinding teeth, tremors, confusion, forgetfulness, over-eating, and alcoholism are just some of the symptoms that appear to be habits that are as unbreakable as the situations that caused them.
Stress warning signs can help us gauge our level of stress. However, stress symptoms often overlap from one level to another. More importantly, many signs of stress can be caused by physical illness or mental disorders. Recognizing stress symptoms can help us keep stress from snowballing from acute to chronic, prompt us to seek medical help when we need it, and keep us from suffering the debilitating effects of stress.
Effects of Stress ►
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