Many of us don’t even recognise that we are under stress.
We all sometimes use the term casually such as talking about somebody saying “they look stressed out” but what is stress and how can we recognise it?
A psycho-medical condition
Even today, the exact mechanisms behind the generation of stress and its effect on the body are open to dispute. There are though some generalities which are now widely accepted:
- Stress is a psychological state that comes about for any number of reasons. It is possibly linked to our animal survival, socialisation and reproductive instincts.
- The effects of psychological and emotional stress are such to cause our body to generate biological products that might be useful in brief periods of crisis – such as heightened blood flow and muscle tension. They were once worked out of our bodies through some form of physical release, such as fighting, hunting, hard labour or fleeing danger.
- Today though, in many situations, our bodies can’t draw upon those physical releases. Examples might include where our job involves sitting behind a desk trying to handle aggressive customer complaints for many hours each day.
- If extended over longer periods, these unresolved stresses can start to create fatigue and more serious mental health conditions such as depression.
- Long-term stress is also now proven to have detrimental health effects in areas such as our cardiovascular and immune systems.
People under stress typically don’t suffer immediate health problems. They may take weeks, months or even years to develop. More commonly though, warning signs can be evidenced by:
- Irritability that is not in line with your normal outlook on life. This may also exist in situations where you cannot identify an obvious cause.
- Insomnia or poor-quality sleep.
- A succession of minor health ailments such as colds, indigestion, bowel problems and so on.
- Loss of libido.
- Finding that you increasingly take a pessimistic view of life and find it hard to relax and enjoy yourself.
This is not a clinical description but it will give an indication of some symptoms that might, only might, indicate your body is objecting to the amount of psychological stress you are placing upon it.
What to do
If you are suffering any of the above for anything other than a short period of time, you should get checked out by a health professional. Stress is only one potential cause.
If you are struggling with relatively high stress levels, try some of the following:
- Get regular exercise. Our martial arts training is excellent in that respect.
- Find more time for leisure, your personal relationships and recreation in your life.
- Identify the cause of your stress and do something about it. You may need some stress coaching help.
Just a few ideas but we hope they are helpful.