The first step to coping with stress in a healthy way is identifying the symptoms, writes Sarah Barr.

We all know how important self-care is for our mind and body. However it is very difficult to practice self-care if we are stressed and do not recognise that we are stressed. This can happen when we are unable to make a connection between our stress symptoms and our emotions.

Usually it is once a stressful situation is over, that we realise how stressed we actually were! But by then our body and mind are already exhausted and run down.

Stress happens when our bodies respond to the demands we face in our lives. These demands can include work, parenting or exams. Whilst a little bit of stress can be healthy for some people helping to motivate them in achieving their goals, too much stress can result in physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms (listed below).

By being able to recognise when you are feeling stressed you will be able to mind yourself better through that stressful period. Which will help to prevent you becoming run down.

Stress hormones are released to help you deal with the pressures in your life. Once the pressure has passed, your stress hormone levels will return to normal. However, if you’re constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to symptoms of stress.

Physical Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Increased sweating.

Emotional Symptoms

  • Loss of motivation
  • Increased irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Decreased sex drive.

Behavioural Symptoms

  • Unhealthy eating (over or under eating)
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Nail biting
  • Repetitive or intrusive thoughts.

By recognising your stress symptoms you will become more aware of your triggers of stress, which will help you to manage and cope better.

As we know stress can be unavoidable at times, however learning to cope with it in a healthy way, can make a difference. Everyone is different in how they cope with stress, therefore different techniques will work for different people. For more ideas of what may help you, check out my previous article that looks at self-care. Self-care can help you reduce the symptoms of stress.

However, if you are feeling very stressed and it is impacting on your day-to-day life it is advisable to talk to your doctor, friend or family member or contact a counsellor. You do not have to go through this alone nor do you have to put up with high-stress levels. Help and support is available.

I can be contacted via my Facebook page or by calling 086 4477867 if you would like to talk or for more details about the services offered at New Beginnings Wellness Hub in Letterkenny (listed below).

Take Care~ Sarah.