Everyone experiences stress to some degree on a daily basis. It can be related to work strains, relationship issues, financial worries, and many other factors.
Although stress can be a driver to boost our capacities (the good stress), it can have harmful effects on our physical, mental and emotional health when it becomes chronic or exceeds a certain level .
In this article, we will tell you about the symptoms of stress , its warning signs and natural solutions to manage it on a daily basis!
What is stress ?
The World Health Organization defines stress as: “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation” or as “a state that appears when our personal coping strategies are overwhelmed by the demands placed on it. » .
Stress is a natural reaction of our organism which allows us to prepare it to face a threatening situation , a change of environment...
However, when it exceeds a certain threshold or is prolonged over time , stress becomes pathological . We then speak of “bad stress” and it is necessary to put in place various strategies to combat it effectively.
What are the symptoms related to stress?
Stress manifests itself differently from person to person. It can cause a wide variety of symptoms.
Symptoms of stress can be grouped into 3 categories:
- physical symptoms,
- emotional symptoms,
- cognitive symptoms.
Physical symptoms of stress
Stress , by disrupting the functioning of the whole body, including promoting inflammation and causing hormonal changes , can manifest itself in many physical symptoms.
Here are some of the physical symptoms of stress:
- Headaches: stress promotes tension in the muscles located in the head and neck (trapezius, temporal muscles, masseters, etc.), which can lead to headaches called “tension headaches” .
- Muscle pain: stress can cause painful muscle tension throughout the body (legs, back, shoulders, neck, etc.).
- Joint pain: the increase in levels of inflammation in the body due to stress promotes joint pain or makes it worse.
- Digestive disorders: stress is very frequently involved in various gastrointestinal problems such as stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea...
- Sleep disorders: stress alters the quality of sleep and can lead to sleep disorders such as difficulty falling asleep, insomnia, nocturnal awakenings and nightmares.
- Fatigue: stress is often the cause of abnormal fatigue that persists even after a good night's sleep.
- Weight changes: stress can cause weight loss in some people (by loss of appetite or anorexia), weight increase in others (by increased appetite or bulimia).
- A decrease in libido: stress is one of the main factors involved in a decrease in libido (sex drive), in both men and women.
- Other physical symptoms: cardiovascular manifestations (increased heart rate, dysfunction of blood vessels, dizziness, etc.), stomach ulcers, feeling of suffocation, hot flushes, addiction to certain toxic substances (tobacco , caffeine, alcohol, drugs…), physical exhaustion, disturbance of intestinal transit, etc.
Emotional symptoms of stress
Stress can also be recognized by the many symptoms related to the emotions it provokes, including:
- Anxiety: stress and anxiety are two closely related phenomena. Stressed people are usually anxious and overly preoccupied or worried.
- Depression: Excessive stress can cause sadness, melancholy, and loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable.
- Irritability and nervousness: stress makes you irritable and nervous, which is frequently the cause of conflicts with loved ones (family, friends, colleagues, etc.).
- Anger: an accumulation of stress can manifest itself in outbursts of anger, even outbursts of rage!
- A feeling of isolation: chronic stress can lead to a feeling of loneliness and isolation, even if the person is well surrounded.
- Low self-esteem: On the one hand, stress can be the cause of low self -esteem . On the other hand, low self-esteem can lead to stress. It is therefore a vicious circle that will have to be broken!
Cognitive symptoms of stress
Stress is very often the cause of negative effects on our brain and cognitive functions . It can lead in particular to:
- Concentration difficulties: the stressed person may find it more difficult to stay focused, which considerably disrupts academic activities (difficulties following classes, etc.), professional (losing the thread during a work meeting, etc.), personal ( difficulties in following the plot of a film…).
- Memory problems: stress increases the frequency of memory lapses and the ability to retain information (even the simplest).
- Impaired judgement: stress prevents the brain from functioning properly, which results in difficulty in reasoning, making decisions, analyzing situations, etc.
- Negative thoughts: Stress and anxiety promote negative thoughts and catastrophic scenarios. In extreme cases (acute stress or intense stress), negative thoughts can turn into suicidal thoughts (with in some cases an act!).
How to manage chronic stress symptoms?
There are a number of general steps you can take on a daily basis to keep stress at acceptable levels . Here are some of them:
- Exercise: Exercise is great for reducing your stress and improving your mood, thanks to the release of endorphins in your body, hormones that give you a feeling of extreme well-being and fullness.
- Eating well: a healthy diet (balanced and varied) is very important to fight against certain dietary deficiencies that promote stress (especially magnesium deficiency).
- Sleep well: it is important to have sufficient and good quality sleep to fight against stress.
- Relax: it is essential to let go and relax as often as possible to maintain physical, mental and emotional balance. To do this, you can exercise or adopt one of the many relaxation techniques such as visualization, mindfulness meditation, yoga, sophrology (breathing techniques)…
- Manage your time well: Good time management can help reduce stress. By planning your various tasks and avoiding last-minute deadlines, you stay in control of your life and stay away from stress.
- Surround yourself well: surround yourself with positive people, those who soothe and support you, and stay as far away as possible from negative, toxic people who pull you down!
You have to find what works best for you in terms of stress management. Feel free to try different methods and adopt the ones that work best for you.
Don't hesitate to get help from a professional (doctors, psychologists, etc.) if you are unable to manage your stress despite your efforts.
Natural solutions for better stress management
In addition to the general measures mentioned above, you can resort to certain natural solutions that are very effective in the fight against stress :
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in many body functions, including regulating the nervous system and reducing stress.
By helping to regulate the release of cortisol , a stress hormone, this mineral helps reduce stress levels , improve mood, and improve sleep quality.
You can therefore take magnesium in the form of a dietary supplement as a cure to reduce your stress, preferably by opting for magnesium bisglycinate .
This is because magnesium bisglycinate , magnesium bonded to the amino acid glycine , is a highly bioavailable form of magnesium , meaning it is easily absorbed by the body.
Magnesium bisglycinate is also very effective at reducing stress due to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier , allowing it to exert its calming effects directly at the brain level.
Tyrosine is an important amino acid involved in the production of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline, which are associated with the regulation of mood, motivation, and stress .
Tyrosine-based dietary supplements can therefore potentially help reduce stress by regulating the production of these neurotransmitters.
Studies have shown that tyrosine supplementation can improve mental and physical performance in stressful situations, such as exams or strenuous exercise –.
Ashwagandha , or Withania somnifera , is a traditional Indian herb that has been used for centuries for its adaptogenic properties , that is, its ability to help the body adapt to physical and mental stress.
This plant is able to reduce stress by regulating the levels of cortisol , the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
Indeed, high levels of cortisol can have adverse health consequences, such as increased stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression. Ashwagandha, by reducing cortisol levels, can help improve the body's response to stress .
Additionally, ashwagandha contains bioactive compounds called withanolides . The latter, by regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine — which are involved in mood regulation — have positive effects on stress and anxiety.
Furthermore, ashwagandha can help, by regulating the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone), to improve the quality of sleep , which can also help reduce stress and anxiety.
- " Stress ". https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/stress (accessed March 7, 2023).
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