The recognition of stress

Because we use (good) stress to help us lead effective and worthwhile lives, the recognition and evasion of bad stress should become part of intelligent living. The following (bad) stress checklist may start you thinking. Bad stress may be signalled (in code) in the following ways.

1. Upset mind symptoms – increased irritability or restlessness – often associated with indecision, putting things off, getting behind with things; the ‘can’t get anything done’ feeling; feeling tense, unable to cope or concentrate.

2. Upset emotions symptoms – becoming very fussy, suspicious, touchy, weepy, gloomy, a ‘thorn in the side’ of others; becoming a busybody; needing to be a member of a group, laughing at others.

3. Loss symptoms – loss of appetite, loss of interest in sex, loss of interest in job or house, loss of enthusiasm for usual pastimes, loss of sleep.

4. ‘More’ symptoms – more drinking and smoking, more sex (including casual sex), or more tension feelings.

5. Overaction body symptoms – changes in your relationship with your body in which a normally quiet or well-behaved system suddenly makes itself ‘felt': excessive heart action (palpitations); bowel upsets (overaction, especially indigestion, nausea, swelling problems, constipation sometimes); muscle tension upsets (experienced as backaches, neck aches, headaches); twitching of muscles (eyes, legs); tiredness of body; breathing problems (sighing, can’t get enough breath in, sometimes wheezing and asthma).

It will help if we take a deeper look at these common body symptoms because we can recognize how normal bodily reactions have been exaggerated and distorted to make us feel bad. Alongside the symptoms are the basic mechanisms by which anxiety is generated.

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