Emotional Stress: Warning Signs, Management, When to Get Help

What sets humans apart from animals are their emotions. Human life resembles a roller coaster ride. We all encounter feelings like anger, sadness, guilt, and jealousy – and that’s completely normal. However, when these emotions become too much to bear and start interfering with our daily routine, it becomes crucial to pay attention to them. Ignoring them might lead to emotional stress.

Emotional stress is the sensation of being overwhelmed or under immense pressure. It can hinder our ability to perform tasks appropriately. So, how can we manage this emotional stress? What are the signs and symptoms that accompany it? Moreover, how does it affect our mental well-being? These are the topics we’ll delve into in this post.

What is Emotional Stress?
We all experience stress as we go through life’s ups and downs. Avoiding stress’s impossible because we face various situations and events. Feeling stressed is quite common. According to the American Psychological Association, emotional stress is a specific type of stress where we feel strong negative emotions like worry, fear, and frustration. Paying attention to emotional stress is essential to maintain good mental health and overall well-being.

Warning Signs of Emotional Stress:
When it comes to stress, pain, or any signs of danger, our body gives us clues; you can think of it as a detective who knows when something is wrong. Regarding emotional stress, the body gives both mental and physical signals. Here are some signs that you need to pay attention to:

Feeling Anxious: When you constantly feel stressed, feeling overwhelmed is natural; emotional stress can leave you feeling anxious or even jumpy. This can make you overreact to things that do not go as planned, making organizing your thoughts and focusing on things difficult.

Mood Swings: If you feel happy one moment and sad the next without any reason, you are struggling with mood swings. This is one of the most common signs of an emotional imbalance. When stressed, people often experience more mood swings. They might be all bubbly at one moment and quiet the next, making it difficult for others to understand how to react. This is another sign of emotional stress.

Trouble Sleeping: Proper sleep helps relieve stress. However, you might be stressed if you cannot sleep or face issues with sleep.

Lack of Concentration: Stress is distracting. It even makes us lose concentration and focus. When stressed, you might feel that you cannot pay attention to critical thinking, your mind wanders into worries, and you have negative thoughts about different things.

Energy Drain: Even after a good sleep or a relaxing holiday, if you still feel tired, with no energy left in you, and just feel like doing nothing, it is another sign of emotional stress.

Headaches: Researchers have found that people struggling or complaining about a headache for a long time generally suffer from stress. In many cases, stress directly triggers headaches and increases the risk of migraines. People might also complain about upset stomachs or indigestion when emotionally stressed.

Isolation: Stress doesn’t let one enjoy the company of others. Due to stress, you may be distancing yourself from your family and friends or want to be left alone. If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is alarming and can be the starting point of emotional stress.

Sudden Weight Loss or Gain: Stress directly impacts eating habits. Due to stress, some people either stop eating or sometimes consume high-calorie or sugary foods to feel relieved. This can impact their health and lead to noticeable weight gain or loss.

Anxiety: Though often used interchangeably, stress and anxiety differ. When a person is under emotional stress, they continuously feel fear and sadness, and there is also an intense feeling of apprehension. They cannot focus on things and may experience anxious thoughts. This is another symptom of stress.

Causes of Emotional Stress:
Unclean surroundings, traffic jams, or noise from the neighborhood are temporary stressors that may make you anxious and angry. However, certain stresses can cause emotional stress. These include:

  • Abusive relationships
  • Narcissistic partners
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Grief
  • Financial issues
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Unresolved emotional conflicts
  • Severe health problems

How to Cope with Emotional Stress?

People who are stressed often feel trapped in situations they cannot escape. They might resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms and try to detach themselves from the stressful environment. This can make them feel lonely and make dealing with stress impossible. Therefore, one needs to take certain steps to manage stress. Here are some things a person dealing with emotional stress can do:

Take Deep Breaths: When you feel like stress is taking a toll on you and you cannot manage things, step away and try to remove yourself from the situation. Once away, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. It will help you feel calmer and think more clearly.

Move Your Body: When we feel like nothing is going right in our life or are not feeling good, we neglect exercise. However, moving your body releases chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that make you happy. So whenever you feel stressed and everyday life problems are taking a toll on you, move your body and engage in physical activities you enjoy. It could be dancing, walking, enjoying nature, or practicing yoga.

Talk: Talking to a trusted person and sharing your feelings is another way to manage emotional stress. When you feel like you cannot solve a problem and everything seems stuck, communicate and talk to someone who listens and won’t judge your feelings. This can also help you gain a different perspective.

Meditation: Being mindful of what you are doing and where you are is another way to manage emotional stress. It’s about being in the present moment, experiencing things as they are, and being grateful for what you have. Meditation can help you connect to yourself and find answers to questions, fostering a positive outlook.

Eat Healthily: Another way to manage stress is by eating healthily. Junk food with lots of sugar can worsen stress. When stressed, instead of eating out of stress, try to consume something healthy that will make you feel more energetic. Also, staying hydrated is essential, as a healthy body contributes to a healthy mind.

Wrap Up
There is no shame in asking for help; you are not alone. Just as you ask for directions when you are lost, you can ask for assistance when you are overwhelmed or emotionally stressed. If you are not comfortable talking to a therapist initially, talk to a friend or trusted person with whom you can share your feelings. This can also help. Additionally, practicing writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you understand why you feel like you are. This method makes you pay attention to your thought process and reveals much about your emotional stress. You can even identify negative thoughts that are making you feel this way. You will likely become more comfortable with this practice as you continue. Furthermore, certain helplines are available 24/7, which can assist you in managing emotional stress.

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