Symptoms can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems.

If you are experiencing any of the following warning signs, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation to determine if symptoms are stress-related.

During any stessful period one may experience some degree of the following symptoms, but they should subside once the stressful event has passed.

These are serious signs of distress overload and may have very dangerous consequences. As you read through the symptoms in all four categories; cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral, it will be easy to assume they are just part of life, we all suffer from them, and there is nothing we can do.

We are raised to feel this way. Most of us are taught from early childhood that this is just life and we are told to buck up and deal with it. This is not true. These symptoms are not normal and should not be ignored. They can be stopped in their tracks and the body can heal itself provided the conditions causing the symptoms are not allowed to persist.

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Inability to  Concentrate – There will always be situations that require us to focus a little harder in order to concentrate, such as toddlers screaming when we’re trying to pay bills, or noisy co-workers goofing off when we are trying to solve a technical problem, etc.  But if you find yourself just sitting, staring at a wall, unable to focus on even the smallest task that normally isn’t difficult for you, there is a problem.
  • Anxiousness or Racing Thought – Temporary anxiousness prior to an event is quite normal, but prolonged feelings of uneasiness, nervousness, anxiousness, or hyperactivity for no apparent reason is not healthy. Your body is trying to tell you something is wrong.
  • Constant Worry; Negative Thoughts – This may simply be a bad habit picked up from your upbringing. It might also be picked up from those you associate yourself with. If this is the case, it is time to retrain your thinking. It may also be a result of too much stress for too long. Once we fall into this rut it is not easy to pull ourselves out. But staying in this state will result in severe depression. When I was in high school, a friend told me that she loved me but could no longer hang out with me because I was always so negative. She broke into tears as she spoke these words to me. I did not recognize this in myself and it was a shock to hear. I am now 55 and can tell you it has taken me years to work through this. I still struggle daily and keep a watchful eye on myself. The first thing I do every morning before even getting out of bed is think of the positive things my day will bring. I concentrate on what I plan to accomplish and how I will go about it. When a negative thought arises, as it always does, I do not ignore it because ignoring it will not make it go away. Instead, I acknowledge the thought and address it firmly as a lie. I then state that I am in control of my emotions and nothing will stop me from accomplishing my goals. Breaking negative programming requires consistency. This is not simply repeating an affirmation to ourselves. It is addressing directly the lie that life is misery and we must endure it. This is a direct action against the negative energy effecting our emotions and a choice to engage the positive. It is a power we all have but we must acknowledge the programming and make a choice whether to accept it or reject it.
  • Poor Judgement –  If poor judgement has been an issue through out ones life, change will require some serious will power to get on the right track. Buying items one doesn’t need when they should be paying a bill is not what I am referring to, though this is a bad habit that merits some serious consideration. We are constantly bombarded with media that convinces us if we only owned this or that, we would be happier. It has been proven time and time again, people with money and lots of stuff are not necessarily happier and those who have chosen a simpler way of life often have more peace. Stuff does not make people happy long term. As soon as the newness wears off, we often endeavor to obtain more stuff to fill the void. If all this stuff is purchased on credit it just compounds the misery because eventually the bill must be paid. Making poor judgements out of confusion or inability to reason when typically this is not a problem is a sign of stress overload. This is when I head for the hills for a rejuvenating experience with Mother Nature. There is nothing more healing than taking off the shoes and dipping the feet in a nice cool stream, listening to the sounds of nature, and clearing the brain of all the “Noise.”
  • Memory Problems – Old age is thought to be a primary reason for memory loss. But no disease known to cause these symptoms is normal or a natural occurrence of life or aging. It is especially concerning if a person of youth or middle age is experiencing memory loss. This is a sign there is something seriously wrong. It is important to seek medical attention to make sure there is nothing physically affecting the brain. Once this issue is free of possibility, stress factors, toxins, and/or mineral/vitamin deficiencies are most likely the issue. Prolonged emotional distress may be the culprit or heavy metal detox might be needed.

Emotional Symptoms

None of us feel good when we are under a lot of stress. And when we feel lousy it is difficult to be upbeat and enjoy life. Prolonged stress results in some, if not all of the following symptoms.

• Anxiety
• Restlessness
• Lack of  motivation or focus
• Irritability or anger
• Sadness or depression
• Moodiness
• Short temper
• Agitation
• Inability to relax
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Sense of lonliness or isolation
• Depression or general unhappiness

Physical Symptoms

Prolonged stress results in many physical ailments. Here are a few of the more common:

• Headache
• Muscle tension or pain
• Chest pain
• Fatigue
• Change in sex drive
• Stomach upset
• Sleep problems
• Aches and pains
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Nausea, dizziness
• Frequent colds
• Rapid heartbeat

Behavioral Symptoms

Unexplained changes in behavior may be signs of trying to ease stress. Here are a few of the more common:

• Changes in eating patterns and habits.
• Increase or decrease in food intake
• Drastic change in sleeping patterns
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Isolating from others to hide symtoms
• Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
• Excessive use of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes to ease the pain
• Nervous habits such as nail biting and pacing
• Complete social withdrawal

These are the most common symptoms relating to prolonged stress or distress. A library of books could be writtin on each of these symptoms and not scratch the surface. It is our intention to bring awareness to these issues and offer resources and direction to get us all started on a path of hope and healing. This is a stressful world we live in. We cannot change that, but we can take steps to protect ourselves against the bombardment once we understand where much of it is coming from.

Next: “Stress 101:Headaches”