Everyone can relate to feeling a little stressed out at times, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Though it might have a negative reputation, stress can sometimes benefit the brain.
Researchers at the Helen Willis Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley found that acute stress can benefit cognitive performance. One key takeaway from that research is the word “acute,” which refers to short-term stress that is not chronic. Long-term, chronic stress can contribute to various negative effects on health. For example, the American Psychological Association reports that chronic stress can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels.
Learning to recognize the signs of excessive stress can help individuals take the steps necessary to reduce that stress before it escalates into a serious health problem. That should be a concern for many individuals, as the American Stress Institute reports that 33 percent of people report feeling extreme stress.
The Mayo Clinic notes that stress can affect individuals’ bodies, moods and behaviors. No symptom of stress should be written off, especially if it’s ongoing. The following are some signs of excessive stress.
According to the Mayo Clinic, physical symptoms of stress can include:
Muscle tension or pain
Change in sex drive
Difficulty with sleep
Each of the physical symptoms of stress are associated with additional health conditions, so it’s imperative that individuals report these issues to their physicians immediately.
The Mayo Clinic cites various mood-related symptoms of stress, including:
Lack of motivation or focus
Irritability or anger
Sadness or depression
Like the physical symptoms of stress, those that affect mood could indicate the presence of mental health issues that are not necessarily a byproduct of stress. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms that affect their mood are urged to speak with a mental health professional.
Stress can manifest itself through behavioral issues, which may include:
Overeating or undereating
Drug or alcohol misuse
Exercising less often
Speaking with a health care professional can help individuals learn about the ways to address and manage the behavioral symptoms associated with stress.
Stress affects people from all walks of life. Learning to recognize the symptoms of stress is a good first step toward overcoming it and avoiding the long-term consequences of chronic stress.