Let’s say you are at your work having a regular day and unexpectedly your boss exclaims errors in the report you submitted and criticizes you and your performance. What is it that you experience in your body and mind following that situation?

Most likely you may feel hot or cold sweats or feel your body numbing or may feel stomach churning or else some kind pain in the body or headaches. Other than this you may also feel demotivated accompanied by a chain of negative thoughts and emotions such as anger, frustration etc. To many this may sound like a norm at any workplace, however we often neglect these changes in the physiological, intellectual and emotional aspects which are signs of stress. Such symptoms are experienced in a wide range of situations or circumstances time to time.

Stress is a commonly used word in our dictionaries nonetheless remains neglected. Stress is mainly categorized in to two types Eustress (positive form of stress which is imperative for our survival and preparedness and motivation) and Distress (negative stress which may cause anxiety, reduced performance and other health related concerns).

When any individual experiences distress there is a trigger in the body’s built in mechanism to respond to stress and autonomic arousal takes place preparing us for the fight-flight mode. This is when the physiological changes in heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, etc. occur. As the stressful situation is over, the parasympathetic system facilitates the cool down and relaxing process for the body to reinstate equilibrium of the body. It becomes a matter of concern when the distress becomes chronic and persistent activation of these systems begin to weaken the body leading to physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms.

Physical symptoms of stress include: Aches and pains Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing Exhaustion or trouble sleeping Headaches, dizziness or shaking High blood pressure Muscle tension or jaw clenching Stomach or digestive problems Trouble having sex Weak immune systemStress can lead to emotional and mental symptoms like: Anxiety or irritability Depression Extreme worry and overthinking Panic attacks Emotional disengagement and withdrawal Sadness impairment of focus and concentrationOften, people with chronic stress try to manage it with unhealthy behaviours, including: Drinking alcohol too much or too often Gambling Social isolation Anger outbursts or irritability Overeating or developing an eating disorder Participating compulsively in sex, shopping or internet browsing Smoking Using drugsIn our next article we will talk about how to cope up with stress and stressors around us for effective livelihood.