Signs and Symptoms of Stress

One of the dangers of excess stress is that it frequently takes place gradually for months and even years.

Stress slowly increases until the sufferer experiences a serious wakeup call such as a mental breakdown or health crisis.

Many in the middle of ongoing stress figure that’s just how adults with a myriad of responsibilities are supposed to feel.

True, some measure of stress is normal and even healthy. Ironically, not feeling enough tension, stress, and challenge can be stressful, too.

But what about when stress levels are too high for too long?

Are you overly stressed? Here are some common signs and symptoms.

Physical Characteristics of Stress

Stress presents itself in a wide variety of ways. Most symptoms fall into one of two categories: physical or emotional signs.

Here are common physical signs of stress:

  • Stomach problems, including nausea, constipation and diarrhea
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Increased sweating
  • Trouble swallowing and a dry mouth
  • Loss of the ability or desire for sex
  • Increased illness episodes such as infections and colds
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia
  • Body pains, aches and tense muscles
  • Rapid heartbeat and possible chest pain
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Ringing ears, involuntary shaking and nervousness
  • A clenched jaw
  • Cold hands and feet/sweaty hands and feet
  • Grinding teeth

It’s important to take these symptoms seriously, especially if you’ve had them for a while now.

They may be the result of stress or another underlying health condition. Stress is more serious than just an inconvenience.

(See our earlier article entitled “Stress is Really a Killer)

Emotional Signs and Symptoms of Stress

While sufferers of stress usually experience physical symptoms, emotional symptoms are also common.

What signs are typical? Here are a few:

  • The desire to isolate from others
  • Trouble calming/quieting your mind
  • Difficulty relaxing your body
  • Depression
  • Feelings of loneliness, worthlessness and low self esteem
  • Easily angered and moody
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed

While the symptoms mentioned above are not an exhaustive list, they should give you some insight into whether you currently experience unhealthy stress levels.

Too many sufferers don’t take stress seriously. High levels of ongoing stress require swift action.

A skilled therapist can help you decide if your stress levels are excessive. If you are too stressed, your therapist can also help you develop a plan to decrease your stress levels as quickly as possible.

Life is too short to live stressed out. There is help for you.

You can experience a much higher quality of life than that! If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

High School: Changing Schools Can Be Stressful for Your Adolescent

It’s easy to minimize the effect changing schools can have on your high school teen.

Not too long ago, we went through the high-school thing and then moved on. But we quickly forget the unique stressors those in high school experience. And those stressors are arguably greater than we experienced a generation or two ago.

Moving to a new school exponentially increases those challenges.

If You Can’t Help Your Teen Like You Want

Is your teen changing schools because you recently moved?

If so, you’re likely having a difficult time nurturing your teen during their transition.

Why?

Because you’re dealing with an immense amount of pressure yourself.

We’re talking about major change stress for everyone involved. While you’re adjusting to a new job, learning how to get around town, changing your utilities over and maybe getting used to a new relationship, your teen is trying to process life as well.

Not only does your high schooler feel your heightened stress level–Their new high school experience is possibly putting their stress levels at near or actual levels that are unmanageable for them.

It may be possible that you can’t help your teen like you want. After all, you’re feeling pretty swamped.

This is a great time to be intentional. Instead of feeling guilty because you can’t help like you want, look for opportunities for others to help your teen. You can’t do everything and admitting it can be freeing.

That could mean seeking out a therapist to help your child work through their transitional stress. If you’re near family or friends, consider scheduling some time for your teen to spend with them so he or she can feel some normalcy and greater stability for a while.

Be Careful Not to Downplay Your Teen’s School Transition

As already said, this is easy to do. But experts in the mental health field know all too well that moves for high schoolers can lead to low points in their mental health. This can even be true for those who are generally considered pretty resilient.

Do your best to keep open communication with your teen about these struggles (or as already shared, find someone who can).

Your high-schooler is grieving for friends they can’t see as easily and scared about the ups and downs of new relationships.

It’s important to regularly remind your teen that things won’t always be so difficult. Eventually, a new routine will be established and new friendships will bloom. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Your Stress Is Different Than Your Parents’ Stress

Have you ever wondered if you’re more stressed out than your parents or vice versa? If so, that question may have left you stumped.

Are you stressed out? Yes. Are your parents stressed out? Yes. We all deal with varying levels of stress on a consistent basis.

But are we comparing apples to apples? In many cases, the answer is “no”.

Here are some reasons why.

What Your Stress Looks Like as A High Schooler

Ever felt like your parents don’t take the level of stress you deal with seriously?

Something you potentially heard from your parents was, “I wish I had your problems.” This probably happened after you complained, whined or freaked out about your difficulties.

These words may have come across like your parents were making light of your difficulties or didn’t care.

More likely is that they just didn’t understand. They looked at the size of their stressors and then looked back at yours and wondered what you were so worked up about.

But could there be more to it than that?

Yes. There can be and is.

First, your parents have had decades to deal with stressors that you’re new at figuring out. This means that parents generally have a higher ability to handle greater amounts of stress than you.

This also explains why things seem so hard to you and why your parents wonder what the big deal is.

And that isn’t all. Everything around us is becoming increasingly complex. You’re expected to know more in school than your parents ever could’ve imagined and at an earlier age.

You also feel the pressure and trappings of constant technology immersion. It’s not just academics that are more complex but relationships as well.

There are now oodles of ways to grow or destroy a relationship because of the “techie age.” Fights, break-ups, bullying and suicide all happen because of online activity. So do healthy long-distance friendships and a myriad of ways to give others hope.

Another major stressor?

It feels like everyone’s asking you what you want to do with your life. But, in many cases, you don’t know. No career-direction genie ever dropped out of the sky and unraveled the biggest questions you have.

Questions like what the heck you’re supposed to do with your life. The rubrics cube of your existence keeps getting more complicated. You can’t solve it and everyone you ask can’t either.

One thing’s for sure. The crossroads of your life keep getting closer and closer. You increasingly wonder what you should do and be.

Do you just guess? Do you pursue something only for the money? Part of you says “yes” but another part keeps nagging you not to sell out.

Although you need money, deep down, you realize you exist for a greater reason than simply chasing the “paper.”

Most days, you’re just trying to survive another school day, more homework and maintain some semblance of a social life. Then, you go to bed, wake up and repeat this pattern day in and day out.

What Your Parents’ Stress Looks Like

Your parent or parents feel consistent pressure to protect you from a world that can be cruel and dangerous. Hopefully, they work hard to make sure you have adequate housing, food and clothing.

That in itself is no easy task. There are an increasing number of jobs that do not pay a livable wage. Many parents feel persistent employment and financial stress.

Even if your parents have adequate means to provide, they realize that there are no guarantees it will always be that way.

Besides the stress of providing for you and your family, there’s the need to get along with and enjoy each other despite life stressors (Often no easy task).

Lastly, your parents feel a stress you don’t fully feel yet. The incredible gift and challenge of being responsible for other people besides just themselves.

They have the constant stress of making sure you and others are doing well and will be ok.

Summing It Up

Ok. Hopefully, all that didn’t stress you out too much!

It’s good to know what you’re up against. It’s also good to remember that some amount of stress is normal and healthy.

You and your parent(s) can work together to better understand each other’s stress and help each other out. Stress doesn’t have to overwhelm you.

If you ever feel overwhelmed, we would be happy to help you and your parent cope better. Life can be very satisfying and things can get much better! If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Can Stress Cause Physical Pain?

Everyone knows that excess stress isn’t good for you. But can stress cause physical pain?

Actually, yes. Stress can wreak havoc on your body in a wide variety of ways.

Most people have heard the saying “depression hurts.” Depression is a specific form of ongoing stress that is well known to cause physical pain and mimic other physical illnesses. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that ongoing, excess stress, regardless of the cause can lead to physical pain.

Although healthy levels of stress are normal, when you start feeling pain due to stress, things have crossed the line of what’s good.

When prolonged and significant stress isn’t properly managed it can lead to a negative stress reaction known as distress. A myriad of potential physical pains could result.

Stress can present itself in virtually every imaginable ache and pain. Some of the more common ways stress expresses itself in bodily pain include some of the following:

  • Upset stomach, stomach ulcers and pain
  • Migraines
  • Tightness of the muscles, especially in the neck
  • Chest pain
  • General aches and pains
  • Pain associated with digestive problems

The Dangers of Pain Caused by Stress

These aches and pains shouldn’t be ignored. They’re really a blessing in disguise.

Much like thunder and lightning serve as a warning to take cover as a storm approaches, these pains are indicators of bad things to come if not properly dealt with.

High levels of stress can literally kill you but that’s not the goal. The goal is for the sufferer to identify life stressors and then problem solve to resolve the stress.

Not only can stress lead to a shortened life, it can lead to the pursuit of risky behavior such as drugs and alcohol.

When you feel poorly on a consistent basis, there often is the attempt to feel better synthetically. This only compounds the problem.

Although escapes like substance abuse may cause short-term relief, the overall consequences obviously aren’t worth it.

I’m In Pain—What Should I Do?

You first want to rule out any physical problems by seeing a physician. Don’t just assume your pain is stress-related.

If you already know you’re under heavy amounts of stress and your physical-health diagnosis keeps coming back normal, your pain could be stress-related.

Do what you can to step away from stress whether that means a sick day (or two) or distancing yourself from people who increase your stress. Get good sleep, exercise and eat healthy and see if your problems resolve.

Also, consider therapy. A caring professional can help you identify stressors and what to do about them. Sometimes even simply admitting stressors can help immensely. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

What Is Digital Detox?

Something some find harder to do than just about any else.

Digital detox is the act of refraining from electronic devices for a set amount of time.

Some reading this will immediately think doing so sounds fantastic. Others will decide it’s impossible either due to work pressure, because of their love of technology or both.

So, did this term come about from a bunch of technology hating people? Hardly. Technology can take over your life if you’re not careful.

Digital Detox to De-Stress

We’re not talking about snail mail here. We’re talking about what can feel like the need to be available 24/7.

From smart phones to emails, video conference calls, social media and more, it can be like a persistent heavy weight that’s always there.

You may feel pressure to answer emails while on vacation (Seriously? Who’s idea was that?)

You may also feel pressure to quickly answer yet another text message instead of interacting in a meaningful way with your significant other, children and friends.

The stress only compounds in many cases. Those living in real time become resentful and feel neglected, thus increasing your stress exponentially.

The number-one reason people practice digital detox is to minimize stress.

Sure, some do it to connect with people in a way that matters. But even for a reason like that, the underlying purpose is to decrease stress to make life manageable and, hopefully, fulfilling on a deeper level.

I’m Struggling. What Can I Do?

First, know that you aren’t odd if you have this struggle. Many, many people all around the world are having an increasingly difficult time.

Here are a few ideas to regain control of your life and feel better:

Set Boundaries—Talk to your supervisor or clients and let them know that you aren’t available any hour of the day but that you will get with them as soon as you can. Most people will completely understand.

Practice Long-Term Digital Detox—Leave technology for as long as you can. Vacation is a perfect time to try this. If you’re extremely pressured, pick somewhere so remote that you can’t use any kind of technology so you have a good excuse.

Short-Term Digital Detox—Most of the time, an extended time away from technology isn’t possible. Still, there’s a lot you can do including the following:

  • Pick certain hours or days out of the week that you don’t use technology. Replace that time with physical exercise and time with people.
  • Step away from your “fun stuff” that falls under technology. That could mean backing away from the news, social media, television or video games. Again, get out and do something else during that time.

In summary, it’s not that technology is bad. We all can be very thankful it exists. We just need to be careful we’re not “overdosing” on it. Balance is key. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

How to Help Your Children Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Children can develop high levels of stress and anxiety just like adults. We’re often tempted to downplay that fact.

We hear things like, “children are resilient” or “they’ll get through it all right.”

But the truth is that children are too often exposed to stressful life situations with few resources to help them.

Are you concerned about the stress and anxiety level of your child? Here are some ideas about how to lessen the problem.

Remember They Can’t Handle as Much

Children can’t handle demands on their physical bodies like adults can. Adults can be out in the sun and cold much longer without becoming stressed.

The same goes for emotional strength. Kids need time to grow into these abilities. Things that you don’t find stressful at all could be very difficult for your child to deal with.

Learn to Notice Stress in Your Child

Adults tend to let others know when they experience too much stress and anxiety. Children usually don’t know how to express things so clearly when they’re in similar situations.

Look for physical or emotional changes in your child to help you see if they’re struggling with too much stress and anxiety.

Is your child wetting their bed, fatigued, angry or more emotional than usual?

These could all be indicators that your child is struggling to handle stress and anxiety.

If your child is old enough, ask them about how they’re feeling. If possible, try to find the causes of your child’s stress so you can come up with a plan to lessen it.

Create a Positive, Accepting Environment

There are enough causes of stress and anxiety in the world. Do your best to make sure that your family environment doesn’t add to the problem.

Was your childhood full of anger, negativity or abuse? If so, you experienced more stress than you should have.

Your family doesn’t need to be like the family you grew up in. Do all you can to create a healthy, nurturing and positive environment for your child.

This means that when you give consequences to your child for bad behavior, it should be done with controlled emotions.

It also means that you work hard to provide a happy environment. Do your best to smile often and compliment your child. This will help immensely with any other difficulties in your child’s life that can’t be avoided.

Another part of a positive environment is modeling for your child how to deal with stress in a healthy way.

Keep Your Child Active and Healthy

Obesity in children is on the rise. And it affects more than just your child’s body. It also affects their emotional state.

Teach your child to regularly eat healthily and exercise.

Feed your child plenty of fruits and vegetables and teach them the proper amount of food to eat. This is a great stress and anxiety reducing technique you can work at together.

You also can exercise together, getting rid of anxiety that’s been lurking in the back of your minds.

In Summary

Looking for something else to help your child?

Teach your child to practice deep-breathing techniques, listen to soothing music or watch calming nature videos online.

Also, don’t rule out counseling to help your child through a tough time. If you feel that your child has been through way too much stress and anxiety for his or her age, seriously consider that option.

By working with your child and others, you can help your child reduce their anxiety and stress which will result in a happier, healthier life. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Stress Is Really a Killer

Sometimes stress is like a small dose of sunburn. Other times, it feels like a tidal wave just crashed on your head and won’t let you up for air.

Some amount of both of those experiences and anything in between are par for the course. Welcome to life, my friend.

But what happens when things become stress-filled on a regular basis?

Early death can result. Some studies estimate up to ten years can be lost.

Why is this?

The Body Breaks Down Under Chronic Stress

That’s the simple answer that helps explain why early death occurs although technical medical accounts show more of the science behind why and how this happens.

All sorts of things go wrong when the body experiences high levels of stress over long periods of time. And these things are stressful only compounding the problem.

Brain Drain—Severe and prolonged stress damages the brain. Brain cells die off. The brain’s memory weakens as well as its ability to handle complex life scenarios.

Depression—The regularly stressed struggle badly to find hope. And when you can’t picture your life getting any better, watch out. Depression is right around the corner.

Fatigue and Weight Gain—Depression leads to fatigue and fatigue leads to depression so that it’s sometimes hard to tell which one came first.

Heart Attack and Stroke—Prolonged stress puts you at greater risk of both.

Fatigue and depression make it difficult to impossible to make healthy diet and exercise choices. Also, cortisol is released into the body during stress. Consistent release of this chemical leads to weight gain.

In summary, these causes and more can lead to an unsatisfying and short life.

So, What Can Be Done?

There’s plenty that you can do to destress your life.

Here are a few quick ideas:

  • Practice positive-thinking strategies to handle stress better.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Leave stressful situations such as a job (when possible).
  • Stop trying to control things you can’t.
  • Smile often even if you sometimes need to force it.
  • Find a hobby you look forward to doing.
  • Read the funniest book in your local library. (Ask your librarian)
  • Develop a good support system of family and friends.
  • Practice meditation.
  • Consider counseling for support and help with implementing better coping strategies.

Ongoing and high levels of stress are something that require your immediate attention. You may need to take some drastic steps to decrease your stress.

Any inconvenience caused by your healthy change will quickly be repaid. You’ll experience a longer, happier and more fulfilling life as a result. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

3 Ways To Reduce Your Stress

Our culture tends to view stress as negative. That isn’t necessarily the case.

Stress is unavoidable and for generations, pushed people to achieve things beyond what anyone thought possible.

It isn’t stress by itself that causes major life problems. It’s the amount of it. Unfortunately, everyone experiences levels of stress they find hard to manage at times.

If that’s you right now, here are some things you can do.

Simplify Your Schedule

One major cause of stress is a schedule that’s too full. Busyness can reduce anyone to a frazzled mess.

First, look for things you can easily cut out of your life for a while.

Are you a news hound? There’s nothing wrong with staying informed but much of the news out there details the greatest tragedies of others.

You can only handle so much. Consider backing away for a while. This will give you added time and the chance to dwell on happier things.

Are you consumed with social media and staying connected? Consider taking a break (unless this is an effective stress-management technique for you).

Also, say no to those who request your time if you can get away with it. If you can’t say no, maybe it’s time to leave a career that could literally be killing you. Do what it takes to regain control of your life.

Simplifying your schedule is key. With the many ways to destress your life, there’s just one problem. If you’re too busy to practice any of them, they’re not going to help you too much.

Get In Or Near Water

Water has a natural calming effect. Grab a blanket and lay near a dam, ocean or waterfall. Breathe deep and listen as you relax and forget about your stress.

Think outside the box with this one. There are places where everyone swims. Why not sit in or swim in a river, creek or lake off the beaten path? Bring along goggles and a snorkel and do some exploring if you want.

If you prefer to stay inside or can’t get out due to the weather, take a warm bubble bath, long shower, sit in a hot tub or pool. Also, consider purchasing a small fountain to keep in your home or office.

Research Stress-Relief Tactics

Talk to your coworkers, family, friends, neighbors and search the web for ideas. Try out ones that interest you until you find something that works.

There are literally thousands of stress-relief techniques. That’s a good thing, too, since we’re all different.

Some people find skydiving or rappelling from steep mountain cliffs a remarkable form of stress relief. Others would become way more stressed than they already are doing activities like that!

Try these activities and more:

  • Ride a Bike
  • Take a power nap
  • Spend time with your best friend
  • Create something (a story, painting, drawing, sculpture or craft)
  • Meditate
  • Make a list of 20 (or more) positive things about your life
  • Get a massage
  • Aromatherapy

The opportunities to destress your life are endless. Half the fun is trying new things. Lower your stress and improve the quality of your life now! Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.