The stress symptoms checklist.
The unmanaged stress certainly affects all of us. Our daily routine such as our work, financial challenges, parenting, or even relationship could trigger stress. Although stress is helpful sometimes, too much of it is definitely detrimental to our psychological and physical health.
But tress is something that you can gain control over. However, before you can control it, you need to determine the vital signs. Unlike what most people think, knowing the signs of stress is challenging and difficult. Often we hear people say that they are stressed. Do they really mean the real stress?
What is stress?
Stress is a normal and natural response of the body to a stressful situation. Stressful situations can be real or imaginary. During a harmful situation, the body releases stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) which in turn affects the heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and breathing. For some people, controlling these symptoms is difficult. As a result, they become more susceptible to stress than others.
The stress vulnerability varies in different people. This is because we respond to harmful situations differently. Our perception of any given circumstance determines our emotional and psychological outcome. Some people are resilient to stress while others aren’t. Thus, some are more stressed than others.
Our body could tolerate stress. But it has a breaking point though. This means that when the plasticity limit is reached, both the body and mind will be negatively affected. So how do you know that you are hit by stress?
The symptoms of stress
As mentioned, recognizing stress symptoms can be difficult. You’ll never know until the stress level is already worse. In most cases, a person’s thinking and emotional aspects are affected. Some people are more affected than others. Recognizing stress requires an examination of your current emotional, cognitive, and physical state. The symptoms of stress often manifest in these areas.
The emotional symptoms of stress
- Easily get frustrated
- Easily get agitated
- Inability to handle the assigned tasks
- Easily get overwhelmed
- Inability to calm the mind and relax
- Having persistent negative thoughts and low self-esteem
- Withdraw from social interaction
The physical symptoms of stress
- Experience reoccurring mild or severe headaches
- Back pain and muscle tension
- Difficulty in gaining sufficient sleep
- Loss of sexual desire
The cognitive symptoms of stress
- Difficulty in gaining focus
- Prolonged patterns of negative thoughts
- Inability to make a rational or logical decision
- Difficulty in memorizing or remembering
- Difficulty in gaining motivation
Behavioral symptoms of stress
- Change in appetite (either eating too much or not eating at all)
- Inability to carry out responsibilities
- Excessive use of alcohol and drugs
- Excessive smoking
Chronic stress can cause more serious problems such as anxiety, depression, and psychological disorders. In women, prolonged stress causes physical problems such as menstrual issues. Recent scientific evidence suggests that stress can cause ulcer and cancer.
Aside from the signs mentioned above, there are other symptoms that stressed people may experience. Take a look at the following stress symptoms checklist (adapted from https://www.baylor.edu) to determine whether or not you already suffer from stress.
Stress Symptoms Checklist
There are two symptoms categories: physical and psychological. All you have to do is to check the symptoms that you have experienced for the last month. The number of symptoms will determine your stress level.
- Headaches (migraine or tension)
- Tight muscle
- Neck and shoulder
- Jaw tension
- Muscle cramps, spasms
- Nervous stomach
- Other pain
- Insomnia (sleeping poorly)
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Cold hands/feet
- Tightness or pressure in the head
- High blood pressure
- Skin condition
- Teeth grinding
- Digestive upsets (cramping, bloating)
- Stomach pain, ulcer
- Appetite change
- Profuse perspiration
- Heartbeats rapidly or pounds, even at rest
- Use of alcohol, cigarettes, or recreational drugs when nervous
- Confusion or spaciness
- Irrational fears
- Compulsive behaviors
- Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed
- Hyperactivity – feeling like you can’t slow down
- Mood wings
- Problems with relationships
- Dissatisfied/unhappy with work
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent irritability
- Frequent boredom
- Frequent worrying or obsessing
- Frequent guilt
- Temper flare-ups
- Crying spells
- Sexual problems
- Weight change
Count all the symptoms that you have on the list. If you have scored 0-7, your stress level is low. The score of 8-14 means moderate stress level; 15-21 means high-stress level; 22+ means very high-stress level.
This stress symptoms checklist is retrieved from Baylor.edu
Although stress is the simplest form of psychological problem, it could affect your life in many ways. But the good news is that you can always find help. If you understand what causes you stress and the symptoms that you experience, it will be easier to find a solution.
In extreme cases, a professional help can be the best option. Your doctor or your counselor will help you figure out the best intervention to alleviate your psychological burden more promptly.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.