Though it should be clear that the symptoms of stress could be due to other health problems, knowing the indicators of stress can help you control your own stress levels to stop them spiralling out of control, or even help that of a friend, family member or co-worker. Here, you’ll find some examples of the ways you could be experiencing stress, and ideas to help you identify what the root cause of that stress is.
The ways in which you can spot stress are divided into four groups: emotional, psychological, physical and behavioural symptoms.
Psychological problems can span from having difficulty remembering things to an inability to concentrate, impaired judgement and constant negative thoughts, whereas physical indicators of stress could include a rapid heartbeat, general lack of energy and dizziness.
Emotional symptoms are what you’re likely to spot in others that are experiencing stress. You might notice a general moodiness or short temper, or even just spot someone not able to relax properly. Behavioural symptoms are noticeable in both yourself and others, and can include a change in appetite, sleeping too much or too little, increased procrastination and consciously isolating yourself.
It’s also important to look at what kinds of situations trigger your stress. Whether its confrontation, new experiences or a heavy workload that spark the release of those stress hormones, analysing the situations that can lead to stress can teach you how you cope under pressure, and help you develop better coping mechanisms.
Whether you’re certain of your triggers or not at all sure why you’re stressed, it can be a good idea to keep a diary for around four weeks, noting the time, date and place of a stressful situation, along with another details such as what you were doing there, who you were with, what emotions you experience and what you started doing as a result of the stress. You could also rate the stress on a scale, so on reflection, you can see the situation with a fresh perspective and look at how you coped.
The NHS recommends this course of action as it can help a doctor diagnose stress, and you should always be sure to see your GP if you don't feel that any self-help techniques are working, or if you feel increasingly worried about your health as a result of stress.