Stress is caused by the body’s instinct to defend itself. This instinct is good in emergencies, like getting out of the way of a speeding car but it can cause physical symptoms if it goes on for too long in response to life’s daily challenges and changes.
When this happens, it’s as though your body gets ready to jump out of the way of the car, but you are sitting still. Your body is working overtime, with no place to put the extra energy. This can make you feel anxious, afraid, worried and uptight.
Any sort of change can make you feel stressed, even good change. It’s not just the change or event itself, but also how you react to it that matters. What may be stressful is different for each person–one person may not feel stressed by retiring from work and another person may feel stressed.
Other things that may be stressful include being laid off from your job, your child leaving or returning home, the death of your spouse, divorce or marriage, an illness, an injury, a job promotion, money problems, moving, or having a baby.
Signs of stress may include anxiety, back pain, constipation or diarrhea, depression, fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, problems with relationships, shortness of breath, stiff neck, upset stomach, and weight gain or loss.
To deal with stress, it helps to exercise on a regular basis, eat well-balanced meals, get enough sleep, meditate, and get away from your daily stresses with group sports, social events and hobbies.