How To Better Your Life With An Online Stress Test
Updated December 10, 2018
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Stress. You may feel it right now as you're reading this. Everyone's stressed about something, whether it's a job, school, family, money, or stressed about being stressed. Too much stress can be a problem, and it's up to you to figure out if you're over stressed. An online stress test can help you with that. But let's go over some aspects of stress before we talk about that.
What Is Stress?
You have an idea what stress is, but you may not know the mechanics of it. Stress is simply how our body was programmed to handle a threat. In our primitive days, stress was the fight or flight mechanism that was present whenever there was a need to get food, fight against a warring tribe, and so on.
Basically, your nervous system will handle a threat by releasing adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones. These are designed to prepare your body for an emergency. You may have a faster heartbeat, higher blood pressure, shallow breathing, a heightened sense, and other physical changes that will get your body moving and speed up your reaction time and focus.
Can Some Stress Be Good for You?
Stress is a natural response to anything threatening around you. It's designed to motivate you to stop whatever it is that's bothering you. Small amounts of stress can help you perform better and give you a reason to do well in life.
It's the way you were designed to be protected, giving you focus, energy, and motivation. Stress helped our ancestors get the extra boost to defeat a wild animal. Stress can help you hit the brakes and miss a car crash. It keeps you motivated at work, helps you perform feats better, and keeps you focused when it's crunch time.
But sometimes stress just isn't designed to fit the modern world. With all of life's demands, you can find yourself stressed all the time, and this can affect your performance and your body, thus reducing your chances to succeed. What was designed as something to help, ends up hurting you, and that's a problem.
Life without stress just wouldn't be life anymore. The problem is that there's too much.
Why Stress Is A Problem
Human emotions are relatively new. We used to be creatures that just needed to survive, and stress would come as a response to physical threats and threats to your life. As we evolved, our problems became more about emotions and stresses related to less physically threatening problems, such as finances.
But the problem is that our nervous system didn't evolve to separate the two well. It can't tell the difference between relationship problems and a mountain lion about to pounce on you. Your unpaid cell phone bill can evoke the same emotions as a warring tribe coming to take your cave. Your boss threatening to fire you can give the same response as literally starving for food in the caveman days.
You get the point. All these stresses can cause your stress hormones to go out of whack and become harder to shut down. Constantly stressed is not a state your body was designed to be in, and it can affect your body in different ways, both physically and mentally.
What Can Cause Stress?
As you can imagine, negative threats can cause you stress, but so can positive experiences. If you're moving to someplace better, you may be stressed about the move. If you're promoted, you may stress over performing well. It's different for everyone. Some may handle stress well, while others may stress over any event.
Stress can also be internal.
A few causes of stress
- Life changes. Moving, a new job, and anything that breaks the normal flow of life.
- School or work. You can stress about that exam, or from asking for a promotion.
- Relationship problems. Even if the relationship is going well, you can stress about messing it up.
- Financial difficulties. Unexpected bills can stress a person out.
- Always busy. Not having downtime can make your stress build up.
- You may stress about what your child is doing, especially if they're a teen.
- A pessimistic outlook.
- Fear of the unknown.
- Everything must go right or it falls apart.
Symptoms Of Stress
You probably have a general idea of what being stressed is, but some symptoms may sound ordinary unless you're aware. Stress can exhibit symptoms in your mind, in your emotions, and physically. If you're experiencing multiple symptoms, you might be overstressed.
- Trouble remembering things
- Poor concentration
- Inability to make judgments
- Always looking at the negative
- Thoughts that are racing
- Always worrying about everything
- Overwhelming feeling
- Feeling isolated and lonely
- Any other emotional or mental difficulty
- Difficulty passing stools
- Rapid heart rate
- Low libido
- Autoimmune diseases
There are other, more behavioral symptoms as well. You may end up overeating, underreating, oversleeping, undersleeping, and may develop bad habits. These include procrastinating, using drugs to help you calm down, and pace or nail bite to deal with the stress.
Long-Term Effects Of Stress
If you are overstressed, it can lead to health problems down the road, including:
- Depression and anxiety. Anxiety goes hand in hand with stress. If you're worried about something, you can be anxious too. Stress can make you feel upset, leading to depression.
- Your body may respond by making your head hurt or making you ache somewhere else.
- You spend all night worrying about your problems, making it harder to sleep. In turn, the lack of sleep can make you perform worse, escalating your problems.
- Immune system problems. Your immunity may lower, making it easier to get sick.
- Digestive trouble. Food may not sit well with you.
- Skin conditions. You may suffer from eczema, or your skin may age faster than it would if you weren't stressed.
- Heart attack and stroke. Since stress can lead to a faster heart rate with your mind going into overdrive, it makes sense that it can increase your risk of these two.
- Weight trouble. You may overeat due to stress, and thus gain weight, or you may undereat and lose weight.
- Reproductive troubles. If you're pregnant, too much stress can be hard on your baby and you may miscarry.
- Thinking problems. You may find it harder to think straight, or remember things.
Scary, right? What's worse is that thinking about these symptoms can make you more stressed and create a cycle.
How Stress Testing Can Help
It's sometimes hard to tell if the stress you're experiencing is natural or too much. It will depend on the person, too. Some love a life filled with challenges, while others want a quiet life and will bend at whatever comes their way.
An online stress test can help you figure out if you're overstressed. It's a good way to see if you should visit a doctor about your stress or not.
If you search for an online stress test, you'll find dozens. They mostly rely on the same concept: they ask you a question and you'll check how much it applies to you. The selections will be on a spectrum, with answers like "Not at all, sometimes, a lot of the time, and all the time." The test should take you about 15 minutes, and then you can see the result.
They're mostly good for a springboard. If you get the results and see that you may be overstressed, see a doctor. If it's negative, but you still feel like you're stressed, a doctor can help diagnose you.
You can even speak with a therapist or a counselor online, and they can give you their own stress test to help you determine if you're overstressed. The test will be better tailored for you, and you can see if you need therapy.
How To Reduce Stress
You can never eliminate stress completely, but it's possible to reduce it to healthy levels. If you talk to a doctor, there may be a few options.
There is no magic pill for stress; if you're prescribed something, it may be to help alleviate the symptoms of stress. Dealing with stress involves speaking to a therapist and letting out all your needs. It may involve you creating your own system to help manage stress. Since stress is such a subjective concept, there will be different techniques that work for different people.
The important thing is that you learn to manage your stress in a healthy, effective manner. Reduce your stress until it's back to what it was designed for: to help motivate you and not wear you down.
Take a stress test if you feel like you're overstressed, and once you do that, talk to a counselor today to see what they can do to help you overcome your stress.