What is stress and how can it be recognized?

Chronic stress can seriously affect your physical and mental health. But you can manage stress by recognizing its signs and symptoms

man feeling chronic stress

Stress is omnipresent—there’s hardly anyone who has never experienced it. When a life situation makes you feel anxious, frustrated, or overwhelmed, you experience stress. It is body’s natural reaction to perceived threats or challenges. Now, a little stress motivates, but chronic, long-term stress could hurt your mental and physical health. So what is stress is and how do we recognize it? In this article, we answer these questions and also suggest how you can manage stress by using mental health apps.

What is stress?

Stress is a complex physiological and psychological response of the body. When we feel stress or fear, our endocrine system releases cortisol and adrenaline spontaneously in order to prepare us for any situation. Basically, these hormones help prepare your body for to fight or flee, which is how our body copes with a perceived threat.

How can stress be recognized?

The symptoms of stress vary from one person to another and may take many different forms. However, the following list of common stress symptoms and indications:

Physical symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Digestive problems
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased heart rate

Emotional symptoms

  • Irritability or agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation or energy
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty concentrating

Behavioral symptoms

  • Social withdrawal
  • Procrastination or neglecting responsibilities
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Substance abuse

Seek support if you are going through any of these symptoms. You could also try mental health apps — these are designed to help you cope with stress.

Tips for managing stress with mental health apps

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a most powerful technique to reduce stress and improve your mental health; Mindfulness simply means that you pay attention to the present moment without judgment. Many mental health apps offer guided mindfulness meditation exercises.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing is a simple yet effective technique for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. It involves taking slow, deep, conscious breaths from your diaphragm. Many mental health apps offer guided breathing exercises. Also read » The practice of conscious breathing as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh

Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) uses rational argument to help you change your thinking and behavior. Unlike some other talking treatments, it focuses on the ‘here and now’ instead of the causes of distress or past symptoms. Read Talk your way out of depression

Practice yoga

Yoga combines physical poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. Those who practice yoga regularly say that they it helps lower their stress levels.

Engage in relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and aromatherapy can effectively reduce stress and promote relaxation.

The takeaway

Stress is an inevitable part of life. But chronic stress hurts your physical and mental health. Therefore, recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and seeking help and support when needed is essential. According to an American Psychological Association poll, 48% of Americans believe their stress levels have risen over the previous five years. This highlights the importance of finding effective ways to manage stress and prioritize mental health.

Using mental health apps could be an effective tool to help you manage your everyday stress. These apps offer a plethora of resources to take care of your mental health — mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, CBT techniques, yoga, and relaxation techniques are just a few examples.

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