What is stress?

Stress can be your response to the demands of everyday life. Stress is not always a bad thing. In fact, the right amount of stress motivates you to be alert, full of energy and focused on your world. But, too much stress can be harmful to your health. It can cause you to feel tense, anxious, irritable or overwhelmed.

Both your mind and body play a role in your response to stress. First, your thoughts and emotions set the stage for how much stress you experience. Your body then reacts to stress by increasing your muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, these changes can cause bigger health problems.

The key to managing stress in your life is to understand the causes of your stress and, then learn how to manage it. Learning these important skills will allow you to improve your health, your work life and your relationships with the people who are most important in your life.

Do you have stress?

If you are over-stressed, your mind and body will give you warning signs. Take this simple test to see if you have symptoms of too much stress:

  1. Do you feel like you are not yourself?
  2. Do you feel overwhelmed?
  3. Do you feel unable to cope with the workload that you are usually able to handle?
  4. Do you often feel anxious, angry, irritable or tense?
  5. Do you get headaches or stiffness/tension in your muscles, jaw or back?
  6. Do you feel unable to concentrate or to remember things as well?
  7. Do you frequently have upset stomach, skin rashes, racing heartbeat, or sweaty palms?
  8. Are you more tired or have a lower energy level than usual?
  9. Do you lack interest in things that normally used to interest you?
  10. Do you have trouble sleeping?
  11. Are you using alcohol or drugs to escape problems you may have?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you may be feeling signs of stress overload. When you have stress overload, you may become forgetful or have difficulty concentrating. The quality of your work may decline and you may feel alone or isolated from the people around you.