Stress is a feeling you get when faced with a challenge. In small doses, stress can be good for you because it makes you more alert and gives you a burst of energy. For instance, if you start to cross the street and see a car about to run you over, that jolt you feel helps you to jump out of the way before you get hit. But feeling stressed for a long time can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Even though it may seem hard to find ways to de-stress with all the things you have to do, it’s important to find those ways. Your health depends on it.
Most common causes of stress
Stress happens when people feel like they don’t have the tools to manage all of the demands in their lives. Stress can be short-term or long-term. Missing the bus or arguing with your spouse or partner can cause short-term stress. Money problems or trouble at work can cause long-term stress. Even happy events, like having a baby or getting married can cause stress. Some of the most common stressful life events include:
# Death of a spouse or a close family member
# Divorce or Marital separation
# Losing your job
# Major personal illness or injury
# Spending time in jail
Common signs of stress
Everyone responds to stress a little differently. Your symptoms may be different from someone else’s. Here are some of the signs to look for:
# Not eating or eating too much
# Feeling like you have no control or needing to have too much control
# Lack of energy
# Lack of focus
# Short temper
# Trouble sleeping
# Upset stomach
# Back pain
# General aches and pains
# Trouble getting things done
# Poor self-esteem
These symptoms may also be signs of depression or anxiety, which can be caused by long-term stress.
Do women react to stress differently than men
One recent survey found that women were more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress than men. But we don’t have enough proof to say that this applies to all women. We do know that women often cope with stress in different ways than men. Women “tend and befriend,” taking care of those closest to them, but also drawing support from friends and family. Men are more likely to have the “fight or flight” response. They cope by “escaping” into a relaxing activity or other distraction.