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When stress gets too much

Stress gives our body adrenaline and energy to respond immediately and effectively at critical situations, such as studying for an important exam or completing an urgent project. However, if unchecked, prolonged and excess stress can build up to unhealthy levels, and may affect other areas of our lives.

Recognising The Symptoms of Excess Stress

Physical Symptoms
  • Headaches: Headaches can present itself as pain in the head or neck area. It can be triggered by a variety of reasons including lack of sleep, dehydration, alcohol consumption, sinus, or allergy, and may be hard to pinpoint as a result of stress.
  • Changes in sleep patterns: Stress may result in sleeping too little, too much, or constantly waking up at night. If you find yourself constantly tired during the day, it could suggest that your sleep has been less than ideal. It may be worthwhile to get a smartwatch that can help track sleeping patterns and spot any irregularities
  • Appetite Issues: Everyone has different coping mechanisms for stress. Some may totally reject food while some may find comfort in binge eating. If you are losing or gaining weight in a very short amount of time, it could be a sign of excessive stress
  • Digestive issues: Stress can cause constipation or diarrhoea, and yet we often pin it down to something we ate that that caused the diarrhoea or try to increase our intake of fibre to combat constipation. The link between your gut and brain is closer than you think and there is even a name for it, known as the “gut-brain axis.”
Emotional Symptoms
  • Feeling anxious or restless: You might experience sensations of dizziness, rapid breathing, or a fast heartbeat.
  • Lacking motivation: You may feel a lack of focus in whatever you do, even activities that you have previously enjoyed
  • Easily irritated or angered: Stress can constantly put you on edge and even the smallest events or things that others say may trigger an anger response. If you find yourself suddenly quarrelling a lot, it may be a symptom of stress that has manifested into arguments with loved ones.

6 Practical Tips To Relieve Stress

#1: Learn to Say No
When we agree to too many commitments, we may end up overwhelming ourselves with more responsibilities which could be the source of stress.
#2: Reduce Screen Time
Avoid mindlessly surfing the internet or TV channels. While doing so may seem relaxing, they may add to your stress in the long run as screen entertainment grows increasingly addictive and distract you from what needs to be done.
#3: Spend Time With Loved Ones
Having social support from trusted friends and family members can help you get through stressful times.
#4: Reduce Caffeine
If you absolutely have to drink coffee to get through your day, try to take your coffee earlier in the day so that it has a lower chance of affecting your sleep.
#5: Regular Physical Activity
Exercise can lower the cortisol (the body’s stress hormones) levels and also helps release endorphins that help to improve your mood.
#6: Write It Down
Whether you are writing a diary or organizing your day, jotting it down allows you to clarify your thoughts and helps make sense of it all.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your symptoms continue and do not ease despite taking some of the steps to relieve stress, you may want to seek professional help. Schedule a 1-hour video call with a licensed Psychologist on Doctor Anywhere app.

If symptoms worsen and you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, seek emergency help immediately as these may be signs of a heart attack.

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