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Stress Symptoms In All Shapes and Sizes

Stress symptoms are widespread in western society... perhaps even more pervasive than you think.

Most people have experienced a mild or severe stress headache, or know someone who has. And everyone is likely familiar with the idea of not being able to sleep or eat due to stress.

Well what if you knew that the majority of all illness is due to the effects of stress?

According to the American Institute of Stress, between 75 and 90 percent of all visits to primary-care physicians in the US are for stress-related disorders!

As you read through the following symptoms of stress, you'll see that stress affects basically every system in the body. Realizing this, the high percentage of illness related to stress no longer seems surprising.

Documented Effects of Stress

Have you heard of the fight or flight response? It is a typical biological response to stress. When confronted with stress, your body prepares to stand up and fight the circumstances, or to flee from the perceived danger.

In order to best fight or flee, the body shuts down certain functions, and pours your blood into the areas that can use it for the immediate reaction.

This means that under such conditions, the scientifically measurable stress symptoms that you experience include:

  • the blood vessels to your gut constrict - you don't need to digest at the moment
  • your immune system shuts down - saving your life is more important than curing your infection
  • blood leaves your fore brain - critical thinking is not deemed a priority when you are running or punching

This reaction makes sense when you think you are being chased by a lion... you don't need to worry about a bacterial infection, or digesting your meal at the moment... you just need to run!

You may not think of yourself as frequently confronted with lions, but everyday events in modern society are creating these very same detrimental stress symptoms, or reactions, in your body.

In day to day life there are many incidents big and small that are interpreted as potential lions, ie. dangers to your safety. These events, such as traffic on roadways you travel and meeting financial commitments, are often perceived to be the main causes of stress.

Biologist Bruce Lipton emphasizes that our biological makeup is not intended to run a continual stress response. Yet that is exactly what is happening for many people as they interpret life as fearful and stressful on pretty much a twenty-four hour, 365 days a year basis.

Researches around the world have been studying the effects of stress. They have documented eye opening connections between how we think about and react to things, and how our bodies respond and manifest stress symptoms.

  • Australia's Garvan Institute has scientifically connected high stress levels to illness and obesity

  • Bruce McEwen headed research at Rockefeller University in New York that shows stress creates wear and tear on the body that causes brain cells to shrink and results in changes within the nervous system

  • Dr. Rachel Lampert and her team at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, reports in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that stress affects electrical activity of the heart and can increase ‘electrical instability’

Symptoms of Stress

Symptoms of stress can run from your head to your toes, and can be psychological in nature as well as physical. Stress symptoms reach into every system of the body:

  1. Emotional
    • Anger
    • Short Temper
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Moodiness
    • Over reacting
    • Negativity
  2. Mental
    • Confused thinking
    • Problems with planning
    • Lack of concentration
    • Poor judgment
    • Difficulty remembering things
  3. Cardiovascular System
    • Heart disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Hypertension
    • Irregular heartbeats
    • Stroke
  4. Stomach, Gut, and Bowel
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Ulcers
    • Extreme eating disorders - eating too much or too little
    • Severe digestive problems (constipation, diarrhea)
  5. Muscular
    • Muscle tension and severe muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Backache
  6. And ...
    • Colds and flu
    • Hair loss
    • Tooth and gum disease
    • Skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis
    • Disturbed sleep patterns, insomnia, feeling tired
    • Breathing problems

Can you see any of the above stress symptoms in your life? If you do, can you consider yourself fortunate to be given warning of a problem?

Can you imagine that stress might be serving as an excellent warning system today? Although a flight or fight response may have been a good purpose for stress in ages past, we live in a very different world now with different needs. It is much more productive to be looking at the stress response as a 'heads up' on an issue we can be dealing with in a better way. This understanding is one of the answers to the question 'what is your successful stress management counting on?'.

View the symptoms of stress for exactly what they are, a symptom. Often people are guided to look only at the physical illness as the sole thing that needs to be addressed. Yet science is telling us that the physical is only a hint of the problem.

Beneath and behind these symptoms of stress, and beyond the commonly cited events leading to stress, there is a common thread. In all instances you'll find that what causes stress is a challenge. How you respond to it will point to what the underlying, truly, main cause of stress is for you in that situation.

Armed with this knowledge, you'll then be able to learn how to relieve stress and create more and more experiences of eustress, or positive stress in your life, and less and less distress.

That is a very valuable bit of personal development knowledge... worth much more than your health insurance!

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