What triggers your stress response?

Except for major catastrophes, few events are stressful in themselves. Stress arises when you perceive a situation as threatening. For example, your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy playing music or listening to books while they drive.

Stress is often associated with situations that you find difficult to handle. How you view things also affects your stress level. If you have very high expectations, chances are you’ll experience more than your fair share of stress.

Take some time to think about the things that cause you stress. Your stress may be linked to external factors such as:

  • the state of the world, the country, or any community to which you belong
  • unpredictable events
  • the environment in which you live or work
  • work itself
  • family

Stress can also come from your own:

  • irresponsible behaviour
  • poor health habits
  • negative attitudes and feelings
  • unrealistic expectations
  • perfectionism

How serious are your stress symptoms?

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms can be caused by other illnesses, so it is important to have a medical doctor treat conditions such as ulcers, compressed disks, or other physical disorders. Remember, however, that the body and mind are not separate entities. The physical problems outlined below may result from or be exacerbated by stress:

  • Lack of energy
  • sleep disturbances
  • back, shoulder or neck pain
  • tension or migraine headaches
  • upset or acid stomach, cramps, heartburn, gas, irritable bowel syndrome
  • constipation, diarrhea
  • weight gain or loss, eating disorders
  • hair loss
  • muscle tension
  • fatigue
  • high blood pressure
  • Clenched jaw, teeth-grinding at night
  • Ringing in the ear

Emotional symptoms

  • irregular heartbeat, palpitations
  • asthma or shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • sweaty palms or hands
  • cold hands or feet
  • skin problems (hives, eczema, psoriasis, tics, itching)
  • reproductive problems
  • immune system suppression: more colds, flu, infections
  • growth inhibition
  • Dry mouth, difficulties swallowing
  • Decreased sexual desire and/or ability


Like physical signs, emotional symptoms such as anxiety or depression can mask conditions other than stress. It is important to find out whether they are stress-related or not. In either case, the following emotional symptoms are uncomfortable and can affect your performance at work or play, your physical health, or your relationships with others:

  • nervousness, anxiety
  • depression, moodiness
  • “butterflies”
  • irritability, frustration
  • memory problems
  • lack of concentration
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling that things are out of your control
  • Preferring to avoid others
  • Can’t quiet the mind or think clearly


  • trouble thinking clearly
  • feeling out of control
  • substance abuse
  • phobias
  • overreactions
  • Low self-steem, feelings of worthlessness
  • Flashbacks of traumatic experiences
  • Difficulties relaxing
  • Restlessness, inability to sit still
  • Forgetfulness


Relational symptoms

The antisocial behavior displayed in stressful situations can cause the rapid deterioration of relationships with family, friends, co-workers, or even strangers. A person under stress may manifest signs such as:

  • increased arguments
  • isolation from social activities
  • conflict with co-workers or employers
  • frequent job changes
  • road rage
  • domestic or workplace violence
  • overreactions

Severe stress reactions that persist for long periods of time and recur without warning after a traumatic event or even after an intense experience such as an accident, hospitalization, or loss, may become a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) requiring professional assistance to overcome.

Call us now to arrange an initial consultation. You’ll be on your way to the best therapy available.
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