Understanding Personal and Global Stress.
Symptoms of Stress
The symptoms of stress can show up mentally, physically, emotionally or behaviorally, and within each category they cover a wide range of symptoms. There is no one list of symptoms that describes stress because the symptoms themselves are highly subjective and as varied as we are.
Stress Symptoms show up differently for each one of us.
This is because each of us experiences stress differently. A steep roller coaster dive might be enormously distressful for some of us yet the same ride can be pleasant for others. Our stress responses are also widely different. Some people blush others pale, some eat more, some less.
As you look over this abbreviated pie chart of body, mind, emotions and behavior symptoms you may begin to realize that your stress symptoms fall more into one group more than another. This may give you helpful clues for choosing stress management techniques and knowing how to handle stress in your individual situation.
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What is the Emotional Freedom Technique?
The Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, is the psychological acupressure technique I routinely use in my practice and most highly recommend to optimize your emotional health. Although it is still often overlooked, emotional health is absolutely essential to your physical health and healing - no matter how devoted you are to the proper diet and lifestyle, you will not achieve your body's ideal healing and preventative powers if emotional barriers stand in your way.
Watch the video............more information here....
THE OFFICAL LIST OF SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
There are numerous symptoms of stress from each of the four groups, as illustrated by the following list of dozens of common signs of stress as listed by the American Institute of Stress.
- Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
Gritting, grinding teeth
Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
Stuttering or stammering
Trouble learning new information
Tremors, trembling of lips, hands
Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
Difficulty in making decisions.
Light headedness, faintness, dizziness
Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed.
Ringing, buzzing or "popping" sounds
Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
Frequent blushing, sweating
Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
Cold or sweaty hands, feet
Little interest in appearance, punctuality
Dry mouth, problems swallowing
Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping
Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores
Increased frustration, irritability, edginess
Rashes, itching, hives, "goose bumps"
Overreaction to petty annoyances
Unexplained or frequent "allergy" attacks
Increased number of minor accidents
Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
Obsessive or compulsive behavior
Excess belching, flatulence
Reduced work efficiency or productivity
Difficulty breathing, sighing
Rapid or mumbled speech
Sudden attacks of panic
Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness
Chest pain, palpitations
Problems in communication, sharing
Social withdrawal and isolation
Poor sexual desire or performance
Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs
Weight gain or loss without diet
Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
Increased or decreased appetite
Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use
Excessive gambling or impulse buying
As demonstrated in the above list, symptoms of stress can show up in a mind bogglingly wide range, and have huge impact and effects on our sense of self, our emotions, moods and behaviors.
What Causes Your Stress?
Understanding Stress Management
HOW STRESSED AM I?
You may see a number of symptoms that describe you, and yet have trouble grasping that stress is their cause. It may be hard to think of stress as their direct cause, when often the symptom is in itself a cause of stress, and perpetually locked into a vicious cause-effect cycle.
Another reason it is hard to tell if you are "really that stressed", is because mental disorders, even full blown mental, mood and emotional dysfunctions, that were rare have now become the norm and worrisomely we have come to accept them as normal.
How would we know what freedom from stress is like it we have never experienced any other kind of existence?
We may also have trouble grasping the seriousness of stress because, well, stress is a brain killer. It impairs our judgement, memory, and much more. Neuroscientists are warning us about disregarding the fragility of our brains with regard to stress.
Our brain is only one of the systems that we can be unaware of, or worse oblivious to, being heavily affected by stress overload.
STRESS EFFECTS ON BODILY SYSTEMS
Equally important but often less appreciated are the physical effects of stress on various body systems, organs and tissues all over the body. But we do not stay unaware for long. Sooner, rather than later, we have a serious physical, mental or emotional breakdown.
How Stress Hurts
Evolution was pretty savvy about danger. See a saber-tooth tiger, get moving! Today, flight—or fight, if necessary—still
triggers major bodily changes, such as: read
Are You Too Stressed? Take our STRESS
Your stress reaction can boost your performance and get you through a crisis. But too much stress can lead to serious problems.
If you're concerned about your well-being, take a look at the symptoms of stress overload:
- loss of concentration
- difficulty making decisions
- inability to control anger
- increased use of alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes or drugs
- increased or decreased eating
- feeling overwhelmed
- thinking often about what you need to do
If you want to measure your stress, take our stress test.
The Power of Being Negative?
It gets thrown around a lot in the self-improvement field that any negative feedback should be avoided at all times. Well, research shows that this simply isn’t true! Of course, we are all sensitive when it comes to our performances or efforts but there comes a time when a little wakeup call is a good thing.
As strange as it sounds, there is a way to give good negative feedback. It is something that needs to be given out carefully and should always be constructive. Self-evaluation is a hard thing to do and something you need to be brutally honest with. For example, say I set my goal to be able to jog 5 miles comfortably in a month. Now, the only way I’m going to reach that point is to build up my fitness by increasing my output on each run.
However, if I can tell that I’m not putting in the correct effort and after two weeks I’m still walking for long periods then I need to be able to look at myself critically. Yes, it’s good that I’ve stuck to it for two weeks already and that’s a definite positive. But I need to be able to say to myself that what I’m doing isn’t quite enough and I need to try more. Looking at the whole two weeks and evaluating myself constructively, I can then see where I need to put more effort in.
Picking your moment
Now, constant negative feedback is always going to be a bad thing, that much is clear. The same thing applies to positive feedback – we are never going to grow as people if we are constantly told we are brilliant and doing the right thing.
What we need to understand is that when we are evaluated by our peers or during self-evaluation, timing is everything. Choosing the right moment plays a big part when it comes to feedback. For example, if you’re trying to quit smoking and are going through a really stressful time at the office, your ability to remain focused on your goal will suffer. By then loading more pressure on yourself through negative criticism, you are only making the goal seem even more difficult than it already is.
Negative Feedback and Goal Setting Theory
A recent study was conducted with two groups of people who were involved in environmental awareness. One group consisted of experts in their field, very knowledgeable about the subject. The other was a group of people interested in the subject but practical novices. They subjected both groups to the same test – asking them to write down all the things you could do to lessen your environmental impact. Their work was then evaluated by a group of professors, who then offered both positive and negative feedback.
Interestingly, the experts all agreed that the negative feedback was far more constructive and helped them improve their understanding. The novices, on the other hand, preferred the positive, “cheerleader” -type feedback.
This study should help us understand that when starting out with something new, we should try to encourage ourselves as much as possible. For example, when starting a diet and exercise routine we should focus on the fact that we are getting up each morning to exercise, eating less junk food etc. This will help us build confidence and continue towards our goal.
However, a person who is looking to run a marathon and is an experienced runner should be able to sit down and reflect on their training. They should be able to critically analyse their diet and exercise regime and be able to see where they are falling down. These two approaches will help both the expert and the novice improve.
Goal Setting Theory was pioneered by Professor Gary Latham. Gary is quite simply the godfather of organizational behaviour and goal setting theory. He has written and co-written just about every book there is on the subject and has worked in the field for some 40 years.
Basically, Goal Setting Theory is what it says on the tin – setting goals for our lives that we then work towards accomplishing. A big part of goal setting is being able to evaluate what kind of goal we are trying to accomplish. Professor Latham outlines that there are two basic types:
- Performance goals – where we know what we are doing and can set a definitive goal such as running a half marathon in two months
- Learning goals – where we lack the skills or knowledge and require time to develop them. For example, learning a new skill such as golf it would be better to set a goal like “learning to drive off the tee successfully” than wanting to shoot low scores in the beginning.
Now, constructive negative feedback will be more effective when it comes to Performance goals, simply because you are improving on an already established set of skills. Much like the study showed, using negative feedback here will help you realise where you are slipping up and you can work towards fine tuning your performance.
Learning goals can still benefit from constructive negative feedback but it would need to be taken in relation to your development. There is little to be gained from pointing out a bunch of deficiencies if you’ve only just started learning the skill!
Like most things in life, moderation and common sense should prevail here. Constructive negative feedback can be a very powerful tool in self-improvement and not something we should be afraid of. However, there is a time and place for it. Picking the right moment is almost as important at the feedback itself. There should always be a positive to any negative feedback – the person receiving it should be able to grow in a positive fashion otherwise it is purely detrimental.
Unless you live under a rock, you are likely well aware of your body's stress response!
The pace and intensity of our current global society
gives us ample personal experience with time pressure,
muscle tension, anxiety, fear, and, in the extreme, the
feeling that your head just might "explode."
Stress researchers have called this the "fight or flight"
response because it comes from your body's ability to
get geared up to face, or run from, perceived threats to
your survival, health, happiness, success, and well-being.
The fight or flight response is helpful and effective
for dealing with immediate dangers such as a natural
disaster, car accident, impending deadline, or
emergency situation. However, when stressors are
persistent and the stress response becomes chronic, we
suffer from a host of stress-related effects, including
high blood pressure, heart attacks, indigestion,
insomnia, irritability, and anger, to name just a few.
We also exhaust ourselves and suppress our immune
response so we become susceptible to any and all
discomforts and diseases.
Fortunately, our bodies have an amazing balancing
mechanism--"the relaxation response." Dr. Herbert
Benson popularized this term in 1975 with the release
of his book by that name. In his book, Dr. Benson
details how you can consciously activate your body's
parasympathetic nervous system, your body's natural
rest and recovery mode.
Since that time, countless self-care techniques have
been tested for their ability to activate the
relaxation response. Among these are exercise,
stretching, self-massage, and mind-body training such
as meditation, t'ai chi, and yoga. All these are
phenomenal practices which I highly recommend. They
also take some degree of time commitment and practice.
Let's talk about three simple things you can do, anytime,
anywhere, to shift out of stress mode and into relaxation.
I suggest that you practice these in a quiet, private
environment first, so you can focus your attention and
learn to do them well. Then, you can take them on the
road and into any situation or environment to help you
find your relaxed, calm, center in the midst of whatever
is going on around you.
3 Easy Ways to Relax
1. Take slow, deep, conscious breaths
It's a good thing that your body takes care of
breathing for you, 24/7, whether you are consciously
aware of it or not. However, taking a few moments to
become aware of your breathing, make it slower and
deeper, and feel it inside your body is a great way to
Imagine there are two vertical balloons that stretch
from your lower abdomen up to your collarbones. As you
inhale, imagine and feel as if these balloons fill up
from bottom to top. When you exhale, imagine and feel
as if these balloons empty out from top to bottom.
Slow your breathing down so that you inhale to a
four-second count, pause, exhale to a five-second
count, pause, and repeat. Count 10 of these slow,
deep, conscious breaths and feel how your body relaxes.
2. Feel the space inside your body
Researchers have found that feeling almost any space
within your body can have a calming effect. To
practice feeling your inner body, focus on any
body-part and feel the space inside your skin. You
might start with your hands and/or your feet.
For many people, the hands are a good place to begin
because they are highly sensitive. Relax your hands
and rest them, palms-down, on your thighs. Begin by
feeling the space inside one finger on one hand, say
your index finger. Then, expand your inner feeling to
include the rest of your fingers, one at a time.
Expand your sensation to include your whole hand. You
can then do the same with the other hand. You can try
this with your feet as well.
If you enjoy the practice and it works well for you,
you can expand your inner feeling to include your whole
body. As you get good at this, it feels great! And no
one, except you, knows that you're doing it.
My Core Energy Meditation program gives you an
excellent, easy and comprehensive practice for
doing this. Check it out here:
3. Shift your perspective
When you find yourself caught up in stress, insert a
mental pause, and step back from what you are doing.
Observe what you are thinking, feeling, or doing at the
moment. Witness your behavior without reacting to it
or judging it as "good" or "bad." Simply notice what is
happening. Realize that whatever you are doing, you
can choose to do something different and more effective.
Take a moment to imagine what you might think, feel, or
do differently that would change the situation for the
better. Could you see the situation from another
person's point of view? Could you listen better?
Could you express your true feelings in a way that is
not blaming or accusing? Could you take a deep breath,
feel inside your body, and come from a more relaxed
Practice these three simple techniques often and notice
how you begin to master the stressful situations in
For more information go to:
Here’s a compilation of several quick 60-second stress relieving methods you can use anywhere, anytime. Or, use them all together for a quick “stress break”!
Restoring calm can be as simple as strrreeeeetttccchhhhiiinnnnggggggg the stress out… These 3 easy yoga moves take only 5 seconds (or a little more IF you have the time) and can be done anywhere.
Begin seated, arms relaxed at your sides, gently put your head between your legs and try to touch the floor with the crown of your head.
Next, with hands placed on your thighs, stretch your body upward feeling it from the bottom of your feet the top of your head.
Finish with feet planted firmly on the floor, hold the arm or side of chair, then turn your head towards the back wall. Hold your breath for a few seconds, release all the stress and tension with a big exhale. Repeat.
Let’s Get Physical!
A uber busy schedule often doesn’t allow for much personal time, let alone 2-3 hours for a gym routine. Whether you are a high powered business executive or a super Mom juggling a hectic day of parenting, exercise is vital. But what happens when we are so busy finding a clean pair of yoga pants is asking too much? Rather than feeling overwhelmed scrambling to schedule exercise into your week, break it down into multiple intervals throughout the day. In 60 seconds or less, you can feel the benefits of a lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Take this great advice from stress expert Kathleen Hall, chief executive of The Stress Institute in Atlanta, Ga. an educational and training firm that studies the effects of stress on the body and ways to relieve it. “Exercise relaxes tense muscles that become tight and rigid when you experience stress.’’ says Hall. “Exercise delivers oxygen to the brain, vital organs and muscles immediately and produces endorphins that soothe your mind, body and soul.’’
She has several fantastic suggestions for quick de-stressors. Have a jump rope within reach by hanging one on your office door to knock off a few jumps in between meetings. Feeling pent up and frustrated after rush hour traffic? Keep one in the car, there is no gym necessary with this technique! Rough morning trying to send cranky kids off to school? Do 15 plyometric exercises or the maximum amount of sit ups your tummy can manage in 1 minute. Using your desk for balance, do squats or lunges during a business call.
Don’t Forget to BREATHE!
Do you ever notice how rapid your breathing becomes when stressed? Or the complete opposite… Totally forgetting to breathe. Stress can overwhelm our mind and bodies so completely that we forget the most basic and vital of body functions. Breathing! This almost seems impossible but it happens all the time.
Stress expert Wendy Duncan recommends a breathing exercise she calls “Heart Coherence,” “This method was discovered in the late 1970’s during heart transplant research.” Duncan is the founder of Wendy Duncan International in Redmond Oregon, which offers stress relief programs, retreats and workshops. “The key is that your heart has its own brain and intelligence. Heart activity impacts you dramatically and others around you. Synchronizing your heart and mind has immediate benefits in relieving stress.’’
How does Wendy’s “Heart Coherence” work? Tranquility is as simple as 1…2….3… Begin with your left hand over your heart center, breathe deeply with intent into your heart. Imagine stress pouring out with each exhale, calmness gently flowing through every fiber of your being with each blissful inhale. Feel compassion, joy and unconditional love radiating out of you and into the universe. Repeat 4 times for each inhale and exhale.
While in your relaxed state from the breathing exercise, let’s move right into the next step.
With eyes closed and still in the seated position – or try laying down if possible, imagine a soft lavender hued, healing light surrounding your entire being, releasing stress or pain from every cell in your body.
Ready for another visualization technique? Try this one from Cindy Kubica, a stress expert in Nashville TN. She suggests starting with eyes closed, hand placed in front of your body, palm up, eyes softly closed. Now visualize a beautiful glowing crystal resting in the palm of your hand. Or if you have a favorite stone available, place it in your hand. The best crystals for this exercise are citrine (healing properties), amethyst (calming) and variscite (eases anxiety). Feel the stone’s warmth and healing properties gradually spreading from your palm, up your arm, into your heart center, spreading light throughout your essence. Let it flow from your chest, up to the crown of your head, down your legs into the toes.
All of this in less than ONE minute! In the time it took to read this article you could have had 10 – 20 sessions of stress reduction. Next time, be creative with these techniques, make it fun by trying to read an article while stretching or doing arm curls with those weights you now keep conveniently near by.
Life can be hard, and it’s heart-wrenching to watch a loved one cope with crushing stress (such as post-divorce or during a severe financial crisis) especially if they’ve spiraled into depression and chronic anxiety.
It’s hard to know what to do – saying things like “come on, snap out of it!” may be well-meaning but depression is an ILLNESS, not a temporary condition. Here are some thoughtful, caring ways to help a loved one bring their life back into balance and happiness:
1. Be available, but quietly. No matter how frustrated you are (both with your inability to fix the situation and the behaviors of your loved one), NEVER put them down by reminding them that “other people have it much worse than you.” Uh, unless you are walking in their shoes, you have no right whatsoever to say this. When a person is under immense stress, they really don’t care at all about other people’s struggles. They are consumed with their own, and putting pressure on them to get over it, will not help.
Solution: Be there, offering love and support, mostly in the form of hugs and as a sounding board rather than as an advisor. If someone asks for your advice, give it. Otherwise, asking gentle, open-ended questions and just allowing your loved one to talk, is more effective than a bunch of “you shoulds.” You will be amazed at how many solutions will come up spontaneously on their own, if someone is allowed to voice what’s on their mind and in their heart!
And don’t forget, saying “I love you” makes the person feel much, much better!
2. Help them move forward – GENTLY – by infusing their life with interest, curiosity, passion and joy. Maybe set a small goal that the two of you could look forward to sharing. Go away for a weekend together. Take them to the movies (happy, uplifting movies only). Visit a museum. Go to a comedy show. When they are ready – NEVER under pressure – engage in social activities together.
Help them to be accepting of the situation – an “it is what it is and what can we do to move on?” attitude that is gentle and encouraging, but never imposing.
3. Ask them what they need from you. Sometimes you’ll get an answer – “can you please pick up the kids from school today, I’m so wiped out…” or “I’d love it if you could talk to your financial advisor on how to handle this?”
Sometimes you won’t get an answer, because they truly don’t know – they already feel overwhelmed, helpless and hopeless, so pressuring them for ANY answer whatsoever will only add to their stress. Use your intuition. Make an offer. Maybe they need your silent presence, walking hand-in-hand through the park and not offering anything but your physical energy. Maybe they need the caring gesture of a home-cooked meal. Or an invitation to a concert. Or to vent over a bottle of wine.
It may be hard for your loved one to talk, even to you. Financial ruin, divorce and other major life crises often come with feelings of shame and guilt, and it really does take a strong person to want to open up, share their role in the situation and take ownership of it. Be compassionate, non-judgmental and offer your unconditional love.
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