Are You Under Too Much Stress? Symptoms, Treatment And Tips
Do you feel like you have stress coming at you from all directions? Does it feel like you couldn’t possibly handle one more thing not going smoothly? Do you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? If that sounds like you, you may be under too much stress.
Unfortunately, stress is a normal part of life. No one is going to make it through life without feeling stressed from time to time. However, there is a big difference between dealing with the occasional stressful situation that is out of your control and feeling like you’re being overwhelmed with chronic stress regularly.
Learning how to identify what stress looks like in your life and where it’s coming from can help you learn how to address it. Below you’ll find treatment options and tips that can help you learn to manage stress healthily.
What Is Stress?
Stress is a natural feeling that you get as a response to things that are changing and happening around you. When things are happening that you aren’t sure how to deal with or that feel overwhelming or threatening, you may start to feel stressed.
When you feel stressed, hormones flood your body that helps your fight-or-flight response kick in. If you’re in a dangerous situation, such as facing a dangerous animal, the stress response could actually help save your life.
However, most of us aren’t facing life or death situations daily. Instead, we may be dealing with things like financial stress, challenges in the workplace, difficult relationships, and health concerns. These, among other difficult or challenging situations, can leave you dealing with stress.
Once your stress levels have increased, it can take hours for them to return to normal. If you experience stress regularly, this can begin to have a serious impact on your physical and mental health.
What Are The Symptoms Of Stress?
It’s possible that stress can show in people’s lives in different ways. However, there do tend to be some common symptoms that you may recognize in your life if you deal with chronic stress. Some of these symptoms include:
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping.
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Digestive issues
- Muscle tension or chronic pain
- Low sexual desire
- Change in appetite (could be eating more or eating less)
- Trouble concentrating
- Fatigue or exhaustion
As you can see from the list of symptoms, stress doesn’t just impact your mental and emotional health. It can impact your physical health and behavior as well. You may notice that you are more irritable with others because your stress causes you to struggle with a lack of patience. You may constantly be thinking about a stressful situation that leaves you feeling like you’re on edge.
You may also notice that you began engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as substance use, gambling, or overspending to escape the stress that you’re experiencing.
If you try to ignore your stress instead of dealing with it, you may find that it continues to grow and cause new problems in your life. This is why it’s important to learn tips for relieving stress and what your treatment options are.
Stress Management Treatment And Tips
It’s important to note that some of the stress management tips may work better for you than others. If the first thing that you try isn’t working, don’t give up.
Identify Where Your Stress Is Coming From
If you’ve been struggling with feeling like you’re under too much stress, you may not have taken the time to find out where it’s coming from. This can be an important first step in addressing and overcoming the stress that you feel in life.
If you don’t know why you’re feeling stressed, it’s going to be hard to find the right form of treatment to address it. Take time to inventory what’s been happening in your life. Are there certain parts of the day when you feel more stressed than others? If so, look at what’s happening around those times to see what your possible stress trigger could be.
It could be that you have stress coming at you from multiple areas of your life. Discovering what these areas are can help you to become more aware and proactive in addressing it.
Participate In Activities That Help You Relax
If life is feeling busy, you may not be making time to participate in activities that help you to relax and recharge. You may feel like you’re running non-stop from morning till night. It’s important for your self-care that you have time to unwind each day and do things that you enjoy.
These activities are going to look different for every person. What you enjoy and find relaxing someone else may not. So, it’s important to think about this on a personal level. What activities have you done in the past that are a good stress relief for you? It may be reading a book, or it may be playing basketball. It could be taking a hot bubble bath after a long day, or it could be going out for a run.
Look for the things that help you relax and then do them. If you’ve been neglecting this area for a long time, it may be hard for you to remember what it is that you enjoy doing. If that’s the case, choose an activity that sounds like you might like it and give it a try. You can continue trying different things until you find what works best for you.
Adjust Your Calendar
You may be feeling like you’re under too much stress because you struggle with time management skills. It may be that you feel overwhelmed at work, but you’re actually wasting a lot of time on social media instead of accomplishing the tasks that you need to do. Or, you may struggle to properly estimate the time that it takes you to do a task.
It can be helpful to spend some time tracking how different long tasks take you to complete. Once you have this information, you’ll be able to plan your day more accurately instead of trying to accomplish more than what’s reasonable to do.
You may also find it beneficial to cut back on how much you schedule. Even if the activities on your calendar are good, if you’re trying to do too much, you’re likely to end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Take time to prioritize your tasks and see what things actually need your attention and what things you can put on the back burner.
Take A Break
If you’re under too much stress, you may just need to take a break. This could be taking a sick day from work or turning your phone off for the weekend to unplug for a few days. Simply finding a way to remove yourself for some time from the things that are causing you stress can help you to rest and recharge.
Taking time to journal about your day, thoughts, and emotions can help you to unwind and relieve your stress. You may also find that it helps you to gain a new perspective on the things that are causing you stress. And sometimes, simply putting your thoughts down on paper can be enough to help you let go of the stress that’s associated with them.
You may find it helpful to just journal in the moments that you’re feeling stressed, or it may help you to turn it into a daily habit.
Talk To A Therapist
If you’re dealing with chronic stress in your life and struggling with the symptoms, it can be helpful to talk with a therapist. A therapist can help you work through where your stress is coming from. They can help you spot unhealthy habits in your life that may be contributing to the symptoms that you’re experiencing. And, they can help you learn important coping strategies to learn how to manage your stress better.
If you’ve been avoiding therapy because you feel like you are too stressed to add one more thing to your schedule, working with an online therapist such as those at BetterHelp may be a good solution to consider. Online therapy allows you to have your sessions from anywhere that’s convenient for you. This can help save you the time of driving back and forth and can help you to feel more comfortable as you start to work through your stress with your therapist.
These are just a few of the many different ways that you can relieve stress in your life. While it may be normal to experience stress from time to time, it can leave you physically and mentally exhausted to struggle with it regularly. Take time to explore what tips and strategies work the best for you so you can live as stress-free as possible.
Other Commonly Asked Questions:
What are 2 signs of too much stress?
Stress affects us all, but too much stress can be detrimental to physical health, mental health, social and romantic connections, and more. Stress symptoms can manifest physically (in the body) and mentally. Two examples of stress symptoms or signs of too much stress might include trouble sleeping or getting too little sleep and becoming irritable or losing your temper more easily. However, this isn’t where it ends when it comes to all of the possible symptoms of stress - stress symptoms can also include chest pain, body aches or pain, digestive problems, depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms, muscle tension, and more. If you want help identifying whether you are experiencing too much stress, there are resources that can help. The National Institute of Mental Health website, for example, has a fact sheet that you may find beneficial: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/my-mental-health-do-i-need-help. Also on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website, you will find tips for managing stress and what to do if you need more help. Similarly, the US department of health and human services has some resources on how to identify and manage stress. Find the tips on the US department of health and human services website here: https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/health-conditions/heart-health/manage-stress.
In any case, you know yourself best, and you deserve to find relief. Don’t hesitate to talk with a healthcare provider, such as your primary care doctor or a therapist, about stress symptoms and how to manage stress. A licensed healthcare provider can help you find tools to care for your overall health, including mental health and the impacts of stress.
What are 5 emotional signs of stress?
While one may be able to identify body or physical symptoms of stress (e.g., tension and trouble sleeping) and might know that long term stress can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack and heart disease, they may not know how the body’s heightened stress response might display in terms of mental health or emotional symptoms. The American Heart Association indicates that heart problems and mental health problems are both associated with stress. You can also find tips to cope with or handle stress on the American Heart Association website. Learning how to identify and manage stress is important, as prolonged or excessive stress can come with an array of possible health problems - including both body/physical and mental health problems. Five possible emotional symptoms of stress or stress symptoms include:
- Increased irritability or a short temper that is out of character
- Feelings of depression/depression symptoms (e.g., feeling hopeless or worthless
- Feelings of anxiety/anxiety symptoms (e.g., racing thoughts, excessive worry)
- Feeling overwhelmed or more emotional than one typically does
- Trouble concentrating or focusing
While these aren’t the only signs or symptoms of stress, they are common ones that may occur when the body’s stress response activity is heightened. Alongside mental health and emotional symptoms, body or physical symptoms of stress are other stress symptoms one may notice. Physical stress symptoms could include but aren’t limited to chest pain, muscle tension, body aches and pain, and GI or digestive problems. If it is hard to cope, or if you are concerned about any symptoms you experience, make sure to reach out to a medical or mental health provider such as a medical doctor or therapist.
Can stress make you ill?
Stress can make you ill, and in more ways than one at that. If left unchecked, the body’s stress response can lead to increased or high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, early aging and mortality, and prolonged trouble sleeping, which can lead to a host of problems, including poor judgment and a higher risk of car accidents. These are just some examples of how an increased risk of illness can be a result of stress. Why does this happen? The body’s stress response is meant to help you avoid danger when you are in dangerous situations and feel threatened. When stressed, sympathetic nervous system activity increases. This is often called the fight or flight response. The national institute of health and national center for complementary and integrative health even states that stress can worsen asthma.
With that said, while we can sometimes prevent stress (e.g., through better time management, lowered obligations, planning and getting support during stressful events, and so on), we can’t control all of the sources of stress in our life. That’s why managing stress is crucial for health, including both mental and physical health or well being and there are ways to handle stress that can help. Someone might use self-talk or social support to help them through stressful situations, or they may use breathing exercises and deep breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi or yoga and other forms of physical activity, and other means to unwind. The health of the body and mind go together, which could be another crucial note.
If stress persists, if you experience symptoms of a mental or physical illness that are a cause for concern, or if you experience long term stress, make sure to reach out to a medical or mental healthcare provider such as a primary care physician or therapist who can help you find effective ways to manage stress or even prevent stress. Remember that you don’t need to reach your breaking point to ask for help.
If you opt for online therapy, make sure that therapists are licensed and that the site complies with the law. All of the therapists on the BetterHelp platform are licensed, and the site complies with any or notable applicable medical standards. The therapist reviews on the BetterHelp website can help you learn about how the licensed professionals on the platforms have helped people like you with concerns like stress and stress management.
How do I get rid of stress?
With the impacts of long term stress on the body and mental health in mind, stress isn’t something you want to be left unchecked. Here are some things to try that can help individuals relieve stress symptoms or manage stress:
- Tai chi
- Breathing exercises or deep breathing techniques
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Social support
- Spending time outdoors
- Positive self-talk and affirmations
- Spending time on enjoyable hobbies
Many of these stress relief and relaxation techniques are also associated with better mood and other benefits (e.g., physical activity). It can also be helpful to prevent stress when possible. At times, a healthcare provider can help you with this. For example, a qualified and licensed healthcare provider or healthcare professional, such as your primary care doctor, may suggest lifestyle changes (e.g., a focus on sleep hygiene or getting enough sleep or avoiding excess caffeine), write a note for accommodations and care, offer a referral to a mental health therapist who can help with managing stress, or something else. If you do experience long term stress, make sure to reach out for support.
What is the biggest cause of stress?
2022 statistics from the APA’s stress in America survey indicate that the inflated price of necessary daily items (e.g., gas and groceries) is one of the biggest sources of stress in the US at this time. Following inflation, other causes of stress included but weren’t limited to global uncertainty and supply chain issues. In a person’s daily life, stress associated with work, school, family, divorce, and other potential concerns may also lead to the signs and symptoms of stress one experiences, whether that’s high blood pressure, tension, overwhelm, headaches, pain, or trouble sleeping or sleep problems. People with certain jobs (e.g., those in human services) often face a high stress level. Sources of stress may differ, but earning to manage stress is crucial for everyone. If you experience physical or mental health symptoms of stress, whether that is feelings of anxiety, feelings of depression/changes in mood, sleep problems, body aches and pain, GI problems, or something else, reach out to a medical or mental health professional. Stress is a common problem, and it is a valid one.
What stress does to the body?
What’s the connection between stress and your health or body? Stress affects the body and mind both. Here are some of the potential health problems and symptoms associated with stress:
- Digestive problems
- Chest pain
- Sleep problems (e.g., not getting enough sleep or early waking)
- High blood pressure
- Muscle tension
- Body pain or body aches
- An increased risk of a heart attack
- An increased risk of stroke
- Fatigue or low energy
- Changes in mood
With it in mind that chronic stress is associated with a number of different medical conditions and mental health problems, which include but aren’t limited to an increased risk of heart attack, an increased risk of certain mental health conditions or mental illness (e.g., stress is associated with an increased risk of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression), it is important to listen to your body. Stress can also impact the immune system and come with other consequences, including those that relate to both the body and mind. There are other factors that may further increase the risk of some possible symptoms and health conditions associated with stress. Taking heart attack risk as an example, family history of a heart attack can increase the risk of heart attack.
If you notice the signs or symptoms of stress in yourself or identify that you’re feeling overwhelmed on a regular basis, whether these are mental health and behavioral symptoms, cognitive symptoms, or physical symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Opening up about stress can make a difference and can be the first step to finding relief from stress. No one is immune to the need for stress management or caring for their body; managing stress and your health overall matters, and you don’t have to do it all alone.
How does stress feel in your body?
Stress and your health are things to take seriously. Body feelings or sensations associated with stress can include but aren’t limited to chest pain, digestive problems, trouble sleeping/sleep problems, mouth or jaw tension, body aches, pain, or muscle tension (e.g., when stressed, you might notice that your muscles tighten or that you feel most stiffness/pain in your body parts than usual), and more. Mental health or behavioral symptoms of stress or stress symptoms may also occur. These can include but aren’t restricted to symptoms of depression and anxiety, an increased tendency to feel overwhelmed, and heightened irritability or a shorter temper. It is also relevant to note that some stress symptoms or symptoms of stress (such as chest pain and digestive problems - chest pain, for example, may also be associated with GERD, a heart attack, and other health problems or illness) can overlap with signs of other health concerns, including those that affect the body and mind both, some of which can be serious. If you experience symptoms that are a cause for concern, such as chest pain, it is vital to reach out to a healthcare provider. A healthcare provider can make sure that you are clear of any existing serious health problems or illness and provide individualized guidance based on your circumstances. Tai chi, yoga, walking, time outdoors, social connectivity, and other means can also help manage stress or reduce stress symptoms.
Does crying relieve stress?
Crying can indeed help relieve stress. It releases endorphins in the body, which can help with both body pain and emotional pain and may even improve mood. While excessive crying could be indicative of mental health concerns at times, there’s nothing wrong with crying, and it is in fact a healthy thing to do. What else is known to relieve stress or support stress management? A number of relaxation techniques and activities such as tai chi, yoga, and deep breathing can help. In addition to relaxation techniques, many people find therapy helpful for stress and stress management.
How do I know if I'm too stressed?
The connection between stress and your health isn’t something to overlook, and it’s important to manage stress and take care of yourself. Furthermore, stress can affect virtually all parts of the body and can lead to a heightened risk of a number of different health conditions. With that said, there are a number of different body or physical symptoms of stress or stress symptoms and emotional symptoms of stress or stress symptoms that you can look out for to help yourself identify stress.
Body or physical symptoms of stress can include:
- Chest pain
- Digestive problems
- Body aches, pain, or muscle tension
- Increased or high blood pressure
- Impacted immune system functioning
Mental health or emotional stress symptoms can include:
- Feelings of depression
- Feelings of anxiety
- Social isolation or withdrawal
- Irritability or a short temper
- Feeling overwhelmed
The mental health, emotional, or behavioral symptoms of stress can affect interpersonal relationships, work and school, thoughts about yourself or self esteem, overall mood throughout the day, and more. The physical health problems that can come with stress may range from mild to severe; especially with chronic stress, they can be detrimental or even deadly. Stress symptoms are certainly warning signs to look out for and address before the signs and symptoms of stress worsen and further affect your health and well being.
On managing stress symptoms, the centers for disease control (CDC) website suggests a variety of options, including physical activity, taking breaks from the news or social media, and deep breaths, stretching, or meditation. It is also acknowledged on the CDC website that the coronavirus pandemic has increased stress for many. Statistics show us that the pandemic has affected the mental health of not just adults, but also, kids and teens. The US department of health and human services website has a page with resources made to help individuals cope with the coronavirus pandemic and engage in stress management during this challenging time in the world, as well as a page that can help people find various resources (e.g., testing and treatment information) related to COVID-19. Click here to go to the US department of health and human services website.
Some of the emotional, psychological, social, or behavioral symptoms of stress overlap with various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. It is also worthwhile to note that stress can worsen symptoms of existing mental health and physical health conditions such as anxiety and depression. If you feel overwhelmed due to stress, it only makes sense that other concerns may heighten. However, a therapist can help those who feel overwhelmed, experience feelings of depression, face a high stress level, aren’t sure how to cope with or handle stress, and so on.
The bottom line? If you are concerned about your mental health, stress symptoms, or stress level at any point in time, it’s important to speak with a medical or mental health professional who can help you cope with stress, manage stress, or handle stress more effectively, and in turn, potentially reduce the effects of stress as a result of lowering or managing stress levels. Though stress management may feel far away for those in high stress situations, stress management is possible, and you don’t have to pursue stress management on your own. It’s okay to ask for help. Therapy can help people