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Stress is not always a bad thing. Some people thrive on stress and even need it to get things done. Stress can be beneficial as it is a survival mechanism to help us cope with challenges in life. In critical situations, the body triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response to prepare actions against potential danger, releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, causing the heart rate, metabolism, and breathing rate to speed up.


The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it becomes fairly familiar or even normal as one could get used to it. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress.

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Negative thoughts
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying

Emotional symptoms:

  • Depression or general unhappiness
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Moodiness, irritability, or anger
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Other mental or emotional health problems

Physical symptoms:

  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heart rate
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds or flu

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)


The more important the outcome, the more stressed one feels. Stress can be caused by external situations (too much work, children misbehaving) and by internal triggers (the way of thinking about external situations). However, everyone experiences stress differently, depending on their attitude to a particular situation. An event that may be extremely stressful for one person can be a mere hiccup in another person’s life.

Stress works well for short-term threats but if the stress response goes on for too long, it can have damaging effects on the mind and body. When the term ‘stress’ is used in a clinical sense, it refers to a situation that causes discomfort and distress for a person and can lead to other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Stress may also contribute to physical illness such as cardiovascular disease. When stress turns into a serious illness, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible.


Even though it might not be possible to remove stress from our lives, there are possible ways to manage it, including:

  • Counseling
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Swedish massage
  • Remedial massage


  • Avoid inactivity. Exercising can lift the mood and break the cycle of negative thoughts.
  • Avoid a poor diet. Eating a diet full of processed food that contains refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress, while a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs.
  • Avoid overworking. Learn to relax and rest to regenerative the body.
  • Avoid staying alone. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you’re feeling agitated or insecure.


The physiotherapist’s role in the management of stress-related work absence in vocational rehabilitation, Physiopedia, viewed 28 Oct 2019, <’s_role_in_the_management_of_stress-related_work_absence_in_vocational_rehabilitation>

BetterHealth Channel n.d., Stress, Victoria State Government, viewed 28 Oct 2019, <>

Segal, J., Smith, M., Segal, R., & Robinson, L., n.d., Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes, viewed 28 Oct 2019, <>

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