What are the symptoms of stress and what to do if you have them:
Everyone has symptoms of stress at one time or another. However, TOO MUCH stress can damage your health. In fact, when I’m writing about almost every single topic you’ll find on this website, stress matters.
It can stop us from enjoying a good mood, weaken our immune systems and even impair our brain’s health. It can also cause physical symptoms, like headaches, GI tract symptoms, sleeping problems, or even high blood pressure.
You name it, having symptoms of stress can contribute to it or even cause it. So, what about you?
Do you feel depressed or anxious? Are you just plain unmotivated?
Are you always feeling a bit fatigued? Any insomnia? Do you wake up frequently during the night?
Do you feel angry or irritable a lot of the time? Do you make more mistakes at work because you find it difficult to concentrate?
Do you drink, smoke, or overeat when you feel any stress? Is there conflict in your marriage or job?
Or maybe you just get tummy aches or headaches when you’re stressed? There are all types of stress, both good and bad but we’re obviously honing in on the bad stress that actually makes you feel bad.
Now, what about the physical symptoms of stress?
When you are stressed (tense, angry, or afraid), your body reacts with the excess output of cortisol and adrenaline:
Your heart pounds.
Your muscles tighten.
Your blood pressure may rise.
People with osteoarthritis or other types of pain find that stress makes the pain worse. Individuals who are under stressed are usually rather fatigued.
If you saw yourself in any of the above symptoms or signs scenarios, you are probably feeling stressed. Some people become immune or “numb” to feeling their stress because they do not recognize the mental and/or physical symptoms of stress. It is crucial that you take stock of how you feel because symptoms of stress, unchecked, long term will cause adrenal issues, immune system depression and more.
So let’s get started on some relief for YOUR symptoms with two great techniques and then some recommendations for more natural stress relief.
How to do “The Relaxation Response”:
The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. Your heart rate slows down, and your muscles relax. In fact, you may even be able to reduce your blood pressure and pain levels by utilizing this stress-busting technique.
The Relaxation Response to relieve stress symptoms:
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for 10 – 20 minutes. Sit on the floor or in a chair, whichever is more comfortable. Slowly close your eyes.
Start to relax your muscles, beginning with your feet. Hold both legs straight out and point your toes away from your face. Then relax. Now point your toes toward your head, then relax.
Next, relax your torso. Pull your shoulders back, and arch your spine. Relax and repeat. Tighten your stomach muscles so that they feel hard, then relax. Take a deep breath slowly to fill your lungs. Hold it for five seconds, then exhale slowly.
Now, relax your hands and arms. Hold both arms straight out and stretch, then relax. Bend back. Straighten and relax.
Relax your facial muscles. Press your lips tightly together, then relax. Bring your tongue upward to the roof of your mouth, press it there, then relax. Clench your teeth and relax. Wrinkle your forehead, raise your eyebrows, then relax. Squeeze your eyes closed, then relax them.
When you are feeling relaxed, focus on your relaxation breathing. Remember: “one one thousand, two one thousand….” as per this relaxation breathing guide.
So, are you feeling better already? If NOT there’s more to come, promise! In fact here are 10 quick ways to reduce stress. The goal of this website is to get you mentally and physically healthy with diet suggestions, exercise, supplements and more. In fact, I even have free ebooks for you and will leave my popular and best-selling “10 steps to a happy, healthy life” for you at the end of this article. Now, back to stress reduction.
Next interrupt your symptoms of stress with proper breathing:
If stress is a problem in your life, then re-ordering your breathing by focusing as described below will help. Total body relaxation will occur when you focus on your breathing. Take a quick peek.
During this process, your muscles will relax, your blood pressure and pulse will decrease, and your stress levels will reduce.
This is important to know if you have trouble relaxing or have any sleeping problems; especially trouble with what we call sleep initiation. For help with this, scroll down to the footer where you can get a free copy of my sleep book.
But first, let me remind you another QUICK stress buster is laughter! In fact, in just about all of my “stress articles” I tell jokes and give funny visuals. I really laid it on thick showing you that laughter was my primary way how to handle stress. If nothing else, you’ll get lots of yuks with that one.
The Relaxation Breath:
Relaxation breathing can be practiced while either sitting or lying down anywhere, but it is most effective when used with relaxation positions which are described later.
To practice, this technique, close your eyes and then get ready to let go of symptoms of stress.
1. Inhale normally through your nose, using a full diaphragmatic breath.
2. Exhale normally through your nose.
3. Pause without holding your breath and count to yourself, “one thousand one, one thousand two.” During this pause, allow your exhalation to come to a natural, unforced conclusion.
4. Repeat steps 1, 2, and 3. Continue breathing like this for several minutes.
As you breathe, try to keep your eyes closed and looking down, as if you were looking at your lower eyelids. Resist the tendency to look up each time you inhale. If you are wearing contact lenses and this is uncomfortable, look straight ahead.
Remember your diaphragmatic breathing techniques as you are breathing comfortably through your nose.
If you are congested and are unable to breathe through your nose, go ahead and breathe through your mouth, letting your stomach and chest expand fully with each breath.
Most people do not complete exhalations.
When we become anxious, the exhalations become shorter, and breathing becomes more rapid.
This escalates the sensation of anxiety, causing blood pressure and pulse to increase. Most people don’t know the relationship between stress symptoms and breathing but as you can see it is learn-able.
When you are doing relaxation breathing, you should pause before inhaling to allow yourself a full exhalation. This complete, unforced exhalation helps your breathing, and then your mind, to become relaxed. The more relaxed you make your mind, the better it is for your brain.
Miscellaneous stress busters:
Massage, while not instant relief, is great for stress. If I could have one daily, I’d be in heaven. (I’m not counting this one since we can’t do this all day!)
A quick trick when you can’t do the two techniques above is to run your hands under warm water and take some deep diaphragmatic breaths. One of the physical symptoms of stress, due to adrenaline release is “vasoconstriction” which gives you those cold, clammy stress hands. Warm water causes vasodilation, so this will help.
Natural stress busters:
First of all, you do NOT want to go down the route of Xanax, Valium, etc. These benzodiazepine drugs are highly addictive, very hard to come off and now known to be related to Alzheimer’s development. To clarify, let me tell you how these drugs work.
They increase the calming brain chemical called GABA. So, wouldn’t it be better just to take a supplement that increases GABA? Yes, indeed! You can take pure GABA supplements and never get addicted. Inositol is a good daytime non-drowsy way to increase both serotonin and GABA. L-glutamine increases GABA too. Magnesium supplementation is a must as well (this works via another mechanism but is a total must). Now, back to GABA.
PharmaGABA is chewed, put under the tongue and against your inner cheeks for absorption.
Oral GABA doesn’t pass the blood-brain barrier. If you find a chewable form of GABA as we have, you can chew two at a time and up to 10-12 in “a session.” The only thing that limits the dose is getting drowsy. Since they are usually sorbitol-sweetened the effects of sorbitol (loose stools) might limit high doses too.
Another instant stress buster is to find an amazing herbal aromatherapy blend specifically made for stress reduction. Ours is scientifically formulated and studied to increase GABA and decrease cortisol. You can find this article about aromatherapy and read up on what you might like.
Good aromatherapy blends can be added to a bath, sprinkled on a pillow or just opened and sniffed when needed.
Additionally, you can get an inexpensive diffuser and continuously infuse it into the air!