Stress occurs when the individual perceives that demands placed on them — such as work, school or relationships — exceed their ability to cope. Not all stress is a bad thing. A little bit of stress can keep the individual alert, motivated and ready to respond to threat. Whether it’s preparing for a job interview or getting out of the way of a speeding car, it’s stress that gets the job done. However, unregulated stress can take its toll on the body and brain. A lot of repeated stress has been linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, anxiety, chronic pain and depression, among others. So how can stress be identified?
It is important to deal with stress, but it can be tricky to identify whether what the individual is feeling is stress or something else. This can be difficult because stress is subjective and reveals itself differently in different people. Some common signs of stress may be:
- Shallow breathing.
- Tensed body, like hunched shoulders and stiff neck. Clenching of the fists and jaw.
- Skin break outs. Stress raises the levels of cortisol in the body which boosts oil production in the skin and can result in acne and blemishes.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Constantly worrying.
- Physically shaky.
- Thinning hair. Stress can cause the body to put a halt on hair growth.
- More than usual use of substances like alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
- Feeling feverish. Psychological stress can raise body temperature.
- Grinding teeth while sleeping.
- Brittle nails.
- Troubled digestive tract, suffering from constipation, indigestion or diarrhea.
- Feeling restless and fidgety.
- Difficulty in decision making.
- Trouble concentrating and thinking clearly.
- Very emotional.
- Feeling unhappy without any real cause.
- Changes in eating patterns.
Tips to Manage Stress
What is the individual to do when they are stressed? Dealing with stress is an individual pursuit, just like stress itself is subjective. Some techniques to reduce stress are:
- Take a break – The individual should give themselves permission to step away from whatever it is that’s stressing them out. Doing something else, even for a short amount of time, will allow the individual to feel less overwhelmed.
- Exercise – There are multiple benefits to exercise for the mind as well as the body. A short walk or run, pool time, yoga class, any form of exercise in the midst of a stressful time can immediately calm the individual down and keep them calm for several hours.
- Social support – It can often help to call a friend, or send an email to a loved one. Sharing one’s concerns or feelings with another person can help relieve stress.
- Meditate – One of the most popular ways to relieve stress, mindful meditation can help the mind and body to relax. Meditation can help release emotions that the individual has been holding on to which is causing them stress. Similar to exercising, even brief meditation sessions can reap immediate benefits.
Stress can’t be eliminated, but it can be identified, and by finding positive and healthy ways to deal with it, can be managed.
Sustain Recovery offers extended stay treatment programs for adolescents. Learn to deal with stress and other issues in a safe, structured environment. Call us to find out more.