Impacts of StressImpacts of Stress
Impacts of Stress

What is stress? What are the symptoms of stress? [both physical and emotional symptoms].

There are three types of stress that one can experience known as acute stress, episodic acute stress, or chronic stress. Regardless of which type, stress is a state of worry caused by difficult situations personally or professionally. It’s how we react when we feel under pressure or even threatened. Stress is typically sparked by a situation where we feel we can’t manage or control what’s happening to us or around us. Emotional and physical symptoms of stress can include but aren’t limited to feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, feeling tense or on edge, agitation or irritability, disruption to appetite and sleep patterns, feeling exhausted and unable to think clearly, struggling with concentration and/or decision making, experiencing headaches and even gut issues.

How is stress diagnosed? How does long-term stress impact your body?

Stress is not something that can be measured as it’s subjective. What might cause one person stress another person could be completely unbothered by the same situation or event. Only the person experiencing stress knows it, however, there are questionnaires and assessments that clinical or medical providers can use to determine whether or not stress is present. These questionnaires and assessments typically include a list of symptoms for the individual to check off (as listed in the above question). The Diagnostic Statistical Manual Fourth Edition had a diagnosis for Acute Stress Disorder, however, when the Fifth Edition came out, this diagnosis was reclassified as Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders. In my opinion, stress is not a disorder but rather a response. If an individual is able to identify their internal and external stressors, then he or she will be able to learn healthy ways to cope with stress and/or change their response to it.

The long-term impacts of stress are severe, to say the least as stress is shown to impact all parts of the body. If stress is ignored, cortisol levels stay peaked, and this negatively impacts a person’s emotional, mental, physical, and even spiritual state of being. Long-term stress is shown to cause cancer and disease.

How does long-term stress impact your mind/brain? How does long-term stress affect your behavior? How does long-term stress affect your emotions?

Stress can cause shrinkage in the brain areas associated with regulating mood, emotions, and metabolism. As a result, this impairs one’s

overall executive functioning. It is also shown to cause anxiety, depression, and other mood issues. It can result in memory loss and increased inflammation. Increased inflammation interrupts one’s ability to experience optimal wellness. Stress can also interrupt one’s ability or desire to socialize and interact with others. This leads to isolation, which we know negatively impacts emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health.

When should I seek professional help?

If you reach a point where you feel like you are not able to bounce back on your own or manage your thoughts, emotions, or overall life then it is recommended to seek professional help. If you feel like you are stuck or frozen, know that help is available, and you don’t have to fight the battle on your own.

How can I relieve stress? How can I help prevent stress?

It’s important to know that stress is normal and will happen, however, there are ways to prevent it or decrease it. Here are some ways: Some coping skills include but aren’t limited to physical movements such as walking, jogging, yoga, or pilates. Meditation is also proven to relieve stress and not only relieve stress but also increase gray matter in the brain, which leads to an overall improved quality of life. Connecting with loved ones, scheduling time for self-care, and doing what you love can also help relieve stress. Journaling and/or keeping a gratitude list, practicing boundaries, eating clean foods, staying hydrated, and proper amounts of sleep are also crucial for relieving stress. Do your best to limit time on social media, cut out distractions, and create healthy habits. The consistent practice of coping skills is what helps to prevent stress. Discover what works for you, create a daily, realistic routine that will support you in preventing stress, and stick to it.

Stephanie Robilio, LCSW
Published Author
Chief Clinical Officer at Agape Behavioral Healthcare

To learn more about Stephanie visit and follow her on Instagram @stephanierobilio, Facebook @stephanierobilio, and subscribe to her on YouTube Stephanie Robilio. Find all of Stephanie’s books on Amazon: WellNowMindful MakeoverPainted Soul, and Bonafide Spirit. To join real conversations about what it takes to achieve optimal wellness in mind, body, and spirit, check out The Mindful Living Podcast on Spotify.

Understanding Stress: Types and SymptomsThere are three types of stress that one can experience: acute stress, episodic acute stress, or chronic stress. Regardless of the type, stress is a state of worry caused by difficult situations, whether personal or professional. It’s how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened. Stress typically arises from situations where we perceive a lack of control or manageability. Emotional and physical symptoms of stress can include feeling overwhelmed, tense, or agitated, disruptions to appetite and sleep patterns, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions.

Diagnosis and Long-Term Impact of Stress

Stress is subjective and cannot be measured objectively. Diagnostic tools such as questionnaires help clinicians assess stress levels based on reported symptoms. Long-term stress, if ignored, can severely impact all aspects of health, including emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Prolonged stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, contributing to various health issues, including cancer and disease.

Impact of Long-Term Stress on Mind, Behavior, and Emotions

Long-term stress affects brain function and structure, leading to shrinkage in areas responsible for regulating mood, emotions, and metabolism, impairing executive functioning. It also contributes to anxiety, depression, memory loss, and increased inflammation. Social withdrawal due to stress exacerbates emotional, mental, and physical health issues, highlighting the interconnectedness of social support and well-being.

Seeking Professional Help

If stress becomes overwhelming and interferes with daily functioning, seeking professional help is advisable. Feeling stuck or unable to manage thoughts and emotions warrants professional intervention. Recognizing the need for assistance is the first step toward regaining control and well-being.

Stress Relief and Prevention Strategies

Stress relief and prevention strategies encompass various coping skills and lifestyle adjustments. Engaging in physical activities like walking, yoga, or meditation can alleviate stress and improve overall well-being. Connecting with loved ones, practicing self-care, setting boundaries, maintaining a healthy diet, and prioritizing sleep promote stress relief and prevention. Limiting social media usage, minimizing distractions, and establishing healthy routines contribute to long-term stress management and resilience.

Recognizing Stress: Its Forms and Effects

Understanding stress involves identifying its different forms and recognizing its effects on both mind and body. Whether it’s acute stress, episodic acute stress, or chronic stress, each type can manifest with various emotional and physical symptoms. These symptoms often arise when individuals perceive situations as overwhelming or beyond their control.

Diagnosing Stress and Assessing its Long-Term Impact

Diagnosing stress relies on subjective assessments, as stress is a highly individualized experience. Clinicians may use questionnaires to evaluate reported symptoms and determine stress levels. However, the long-term impact of stress is far-reaching, affecting emotional, mental, and physical health. Prolonged stress elevates cortisol levels, which can lead to serious health conditions if left unaddressed.

Understanding the Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Chronic Stress

Chronic stress exerts significant psychological and behavioral effects, impacting brain structure and function. It can result in reduced brain volume in areas responsible for regulating mood and cognition, leading to symptoms like anxiety, depression, and memory impairment. Behaviorally, chronic stress may manifest as social withdrawal and decreased motivation, exacerbating emotional and mental health issues.

Knowing When to Seek Professional Assistance for Stress Management

Recognizing when stress becomes unmanageable is crucial for seeking professional help. If stress begins to interfere with daily functioning or significantly impacts emotional well-being, seeking assistance from mental health professionals is advisable. Seeking help allows individuals to access support and develop effective coping strategies to manage stress effectively.

Effective Strategies for Stress Relief and Prevention

Implementing effective stress relief and prevention strategies is essential for maintaining overall well-being. Engaging in regular physical activity, practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, fostering social connections, and prioritizing self-care activities can help alleviate stress. Additionally, adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as maintaining a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and setting boundaries can promote long-term stress resilience.

Building Resilience Against Stress Through Lifestyle Changes

Building resilience against stress involves making positive lifestyle changes that support overall well-being. This includes cultivating a strong support network, engaging in regular exercise, prioritizing self-care practices, and developing effective coping skills. By incorporating these strategies into daily life, individuals can enhance their resilience to stress and better manage life’s challenges.

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