No one can get through life without some stress. The stress response is a normal part of everyday life, and, in small quantities, can even enhance productivity at work or school. Stress only becomes a problem when you experience too much of it. High levels of stress can lead to physical and psychological health challenges, as well as self-destructive behaviors including overeating and substance abuse. Some of the major problems caused by excessive stress are anxiety and related anxiety disorders.
What Causes Stress?
Stress is different for everyone, and what is stressful for one person may not bother another person at all. In general, any person or situation that causes you to feel out of control or unsafe may produce stress. Some common sources of stress include:
- Illness or discomfort
- Loud noises, traffic or crowds
- Over scheduling
- Pressures from work or family.
Symptoms of Anxiety
When you experience high levels of stress over a period of time, anxiety may result. Other factors contributing to anxiety may include exposure to trauma, as well as certain medications and health conditions. Here are some common symptoms of anxiety:
- Abdominal pain or diarrhea
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Irritability and bad temper
- Nightmares and sleep difficulties
- Sexual dysfunction
- Trouble concentrating
Stress and Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are psychiatric conditions characterized by high levels of anxiety. Types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Social phobias
- Specific phobias.
Anxiety Stress Relief
If you’re experiencing stress and anxiety in your life, some simple lifestyle changes may bring relief:
- Don’t smoke or use recreational drugs.
- Eat a nutritious, healthy diet.
- Get regular exercise doing something you enjoy, such as walking, running, dancing, swimming or playing sports.
- Learn relaxation techniques such as biofeedback, guided imagery, meditation or yoga.
- Lower your alcohol and caffeine intake.
- Open up and share your feelings with someone you trust, like a close friend or family member.
- Take frequent breaks and balance responsibility with fun.
- Try to get enough sleep each night.
If these measures don’t bring you enough relief, you may be able to find help through support groups, therapy or medication. Speak to your doctor if you suspect that you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Carey, B. (2010). Extinguishing the fear at the roots of anxiety. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/stress-and-anxiety/overview.html
The HealthCentral Network. (2010). Stress and anxiety. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/stress-anxiety-10813-108.html