Do You Know Your Stress Warning Signs?

Depressed Businessman.

Take a moment to survey your upper body. Do you immediately notice sensations of pain, stiffness or tightness in any part? The body provides clues that the body is reacting to stress. Hans Selye, an endocrinologist studied the effects of stress on the body. He determined that the body reacts to positive and negative stressors in the same manner.

We experience positive stressors all of the time, but may not comprehend them as stress producing. Your daughter’s soccer team has just earned its second win of the season. You watch your child pedal his bike, counting each turn, as he learns to ride his bike without training wheels. You hear the starter gun go off as you begin your first or tenth marathon. You receive flowers, at work, from an admirer.

We notice and openly acknowledge negative stressors. You spilled coffee on your shirt which causes you to be late for an important meeting. You have all of the information for a key presentation and you are stuck in traffic. You have an argument with your spouse, child or partner. Your neighbor complains about the poor conditions of the yards in your neighborhood and you have not cut your grass in two weeks.

Negative stress contributes to a host of health concerns, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and complications from diabetes. Stressed individuals may experience hives, indigestion, constipation, or heart palpitations. Many display short-temperedness, irritability and impatience. Additional effects could be difficulty sleeping and inability to enjoy sexual relations.

The body provides warning signs throughout the day. Recognizing these signs will enable you to address the tension that you feel. When the stress (fight or flight) response is initiated, the body is immediately prepared to take physical action. The physical action dispenses the extreme energy that is stored in the muscles. When no physical action takes place, the muscles store the energy until it slowly dissipates. The result is muscle tension and stiffness.

We are also prone to placing our bodies in stress causing physical positions. We hunch over our computer keyboard which contributes to poor posture. We cradle the phone between our neck and shoulder while typing. We sit for hours without getting up and moving. We constantly clench our teeth and jaw without thinking. Our facial expressions frowns, furrowed brows, and pursed lips are also signs of stress. We strain our eyes looking at the computer screen without a break. Our poor seated posture contributes to poor breathing.

We do not always notice these warning signs until we stand up, walk or make a large movement. When we move, we may feel pain or discomfort. Take a few moments every hour to do an upper body scan. The body scan will allow you to pinpoint tension or stress in certain parts of your body and to take action to relieve it. The result should be a decrease in the negative effects previously mentioned.

Scan the body for the following responses. Take time to stretch, unclench, or rest and this will relieve some of the tension you feel.

Tightened temples
Knotted forehead
Furrowed eyebrows
Clenched teeth
Tightened lips
Caved in chest
Knots in stomach
Lower backache
Tight back muscles
Restricted breathing
Hunched shoulders
Clenched jaw
Tight shoulder muscles
Tight neck muscles
Eye Strain

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M.L. Bailey Consultants, Inc. Copyright ©2016 Marcyline L. Bailey All Rights Reserved
Real Social Workers Online Magazine Copyright ©2016 Marcyline L. Bailey All Rights Reserved

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