Imagine you’re seated in traffic, late for an interview for your dream job, watching the minutes tick away, anxiety builds up and you sweat profusely.

Stress affects us all, although differently. You might recognize symptoms of stress mostly during busy times at work, when disciplining your kids, when managing your finances, or when coping with a challenging relationship. Stress is everywhere. And while a little stress is ok and beneficial, too much stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically.

Indeed Stress symptoms can affect your body, thoughts, feelings and behavior even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that irritating headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work but stress could be the cause.

A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. But ongoing, chronic stress can cause or worsen many serious health problems affecting the various body systems including: cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, reproductive, gastrointestinal, nervous and musculoskeletal systems.

Shortness of breath and rapid breathing are the common effects to respiration. In addition, the rapid breathing or hyperventilation caused by stress can bring on a panic attack in someone prone to panic attacks.

Stress and the fatigue that often comes with it, can take a toll on your libido in women and erectile dysfunction among men.

Heart attack, stroke, weakened immunity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, stomachaches, missed periods, infertility among others are some of the physical effects of stress.

Once stressed, muscles become taut and tense up especially for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders like both tension-type headache, migraine headache and backache.

Mental effects of stress include: insomnia, increased depression, anxiety, and irritability among others.

Walking away from the stressors hardly solves the effects of it but rather explore stress management strategies, such as:

  • Getting regular physical activity.
  • Spending time with family and friends.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga.
  • Keeping a sense of humor.
  • Setting aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music.
  • And be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine and alcohol, and the use of illegal substances.

In conclusion aim to find active ways to manage your stress. Inactive ways to manage stress such as watching television, surfing the internet or playing video games may seem relaxing, but they may increase your stress over the long term.

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