Stress: forms, symptoms, and management tools

In this modern-day and age, we all experience stress. This stress may show up in various forms, we may handle it in different ways and it may impact our lives in multiple ways. This blog explores all that and more, and by the end you should leave this page with a newfound understanding of stress and with more management strategies to enrich your life.

Forms of stress:

Psychosocial stress: relationship/marriage difficulties (partner, siblings, children, family, employer, co-workers, employer), lack of social support, lack of resources for adequate survival, loss of employment/investments/savings, loss of loved ones, bankruptcy, home foreclosure, and isolation.

Physical stress: trauma, intense physical labor/over-exertion, environmental pollution, illness, fatigue, inadequate oxygen supply, hypoglycemia, hormonal and/or biochemical imbalances, dietary stress, dehydration, substance abuse, dental challenges, and musculoskeletal misalignments/imbalances.

Psycho-spiritual stress: A crisis of values, meaning, and purpose; joyless striving (instead of productive, satisfying, meaningful, and fulfilling work) and misalignment within one’s core spiritual beliefs.

Psychological stress: emotional - resentments, fears, frustration, sadness, anger, grief/bereavement, anxious thoughts, and perceptual stress (beliefs, roles, stories, attitudes, world view).

Types of stress:

acute stress - in one isolated situation

episodic acute stress - many episodes of acute stress not lasting longer than 4 weeks

chronic stress - sustained stress over 4 weeks

Now that we’ve learned what can cause stress and what might be defined as stress, how does stress manifest in the body or what effects can it have?

Symptoms of stress:

Mental symptoms of stress:

  • Anxiety or irritability.

  • Depression.

  • Panic attacks.

  • Sadness.

  • Fatigue.

Physical symptoms of stress:

  • Aches and pains.

  • Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing.

  • Exhaustion or trouble sleeping.

  • Headaches, dizziness or shaking.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Muscle tension or jaw clenching.

  • Stomach or digestive problems.

  • Low libido.

  • Weakened immune system.

Of course many of these symptoms can be associated with other conditions and diseases, and this is by no means a diagnostic list however, these are symptoms to look out for.

Although some stressors are unchangeable and theres nothing we can do to change them, what we can do is increase the way be cope with it and do the most we can to make it better.

Stress managament strategies:

These are some of my favourite stress reduction and stress management strategies.

1. Laughter: When feeling stressed, it can be hard to find time or energy for laughter. However allowing even just 5 minutes in a day to watch a funny video, do something silly or think back to a funny memory can make a huge difference and change your day for the better.

2. Breathing exercises: Focus on slow, deep belly breaths to help switch from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).

3. Get outside: Change your environment, get outside and get into nature. Add it into your routine such as eating breakfast outside, stopping at a park on the way home from work, or catching up with friends at the beach instead of the city.

4. Boundary setting: Not everything that causes us stress is in our control, however, some things are.Try not to take on more than you can handle. And say no to things that are too much or do not enrich your life.

5. Reach out to a loved one: Sometimes all you need is a hug, reassuring words, or an ear to listen from someone close to you. Make sure to reach out if you need support.

6. Physical activity: Provided that this isn't the cause of stress, engaging in some exercise is a great way to let off some steam, get endorphins flowing, and increase self confidence.

7. Listen to music: Take a break to listen to some of your favorite music. Try to ensure it is music that either uplift, relaxes, or motivates you - not the opposite.

8. Set a date: Set a date now for an hour, day, or weekend where you can take time off to do the things that bring you joy away from your current stressors. This gives you something to look forward to in the midst of a stressful period.

I hope you found this blog post useful and please know that if you are feeling so increbibly overwhelmed please reach out to your GP or use the following resources for help:

13 11 14 - Lifeline WA 24 hour crisis support, they also offer online chatting or texting, visit

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