The warning signs of stress

The first signs of stress tend to show themselves as mental and emotional signs such as moodiness resulting in feeling irritable or being short tempered. Left unchecked, you can become agitated with and inability to relax. You might find that you cannot concentrate as normal, that you make some poor decisions that are out or character for you and that memory problems have contributed to these decisions. Noticing these changes in yourself now ramps up the pressure on you and you start seeing “the glass as half empty”. Your thoughts then start to race and you become anxious and worried. Then as you worry about things, bit by bit, you start to feel overwhelmed. When the physical symptoms start to kick in you can feel you’re getting old because you’ve developed various aches and pains, frequent coughs and colds and maybe the odd touch of diarrhoea or constipation, nausea and dizziness and a loss of your sex drive.

Behaviourally, the symptoms are likely to do either of these:

  • Eat too much
  • Or not eat enough

There is a tendency to isolate yourself from others and to increase your bad habits such as smoke more or have an extra drink or two to try to relax or resort to drugs to sort the problem. You will also notice an increase in other behaviours such as pacing to and fro or biting your nails

Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological or medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress-related.

Having made certain that your symptoms are not due to other physiological causes, you can do something about the stress before it develops into a physical illness which will make it a lot harder to resolve than dealing with the stress alone.

As a therapist who deals with stress reduction, I would definitely advise that you seek a therapy that helps you relax. Bear in mind that it took some time for the stress to build up in you so don’t expect a one treatment solution to ease your stress. You will need to make a regular appointment be that a weekly visit or even a monthly visit to de-stress you. Psychologically, making the commitment to a regular treatment helps because you are telling yourself that you are going to help yourself in this way so you automatically start the relaxation process and allow the treatment to go in and work on a deeper level than a one off commitment will do for you.

The type of therapy you choose will very much depend upon the type of person you are. For instance, if you prefer to talk things through then choose a talk therapy such as counselling. If your stress has caused you physical symptoms such as a back ache then maybe reflexology, a massage or a chiropractor would suit you better. If in doubt, call a therapist who practises the therapy that you feel like trying and ask them if their therapy deals with stress reduction. It is important that you feel that you can trust and relate to the therapist you choose to do the work. If you don’t get that feeling from the therapist you choose, then call another and see what they have to say. That you can relate to the therapist is equally important to the therapy you choose. A good therapist should always recommend another therapy if it would suit your problem better.