Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Sign of the Times

Many of us are well aware of situations or circumstances that cause us stress.  In the moment we can recognize the signs of emotional response to the stress we are suddenly experiencing.  Are we as good at recognizing stress over the long term?  What about stress that slowly creeps in?  The kind of stress that seems small but accumulates over time and before you know it, we are blowing our tops.  We have all experienced this stress at some time or another in our lives.  It isn't as easily recognized or noticeable in our lives until it accumulates and become too much.  
There are still ways of catching this stress before it becomes too much.  We need to be much more intentional about recognizing it before it becomes overwhelming. 

The following is a list of signs and symptoms of stress, personal and work related stress:

  • weight change
  • changes in hygiene
  • posture
  • trembling or shaking
  • increased smoking or coffee drinking
  • change in energy (highly energized, or lethargic)
  • skin pallor or blushing
  • breathlessness
  • inarticulate speech
  • sighing
  • changes in health
  • nail biting
  • tearfulness
  • frowning or overly serious
  • tone of voice
  • alcohol or drug abuse

Signs and symptoms of stress at work:

  • being late for work
  • absenteeism
  • longer lunch breaks
  • clock watching
  • leaving early
  • changes in productivity
  • performance issues
  • frequent mistakes or accidents
  • poor memory
  • difficulty making decisions
  • impaired judgment
  • lack of personal care
  • loss of temper, mood swings, over-reactions
  • withdrawal socially or isolating self
  • poor time management and inability to meet deadlines
  • low morale / commitment to the employer
  • conflict in workplace relationships
  • low efficiency

   Do any of these sound familiar? When you reflect on the particularly stressful times in your life, which of these were prevalent?  We can't always rely on the obvious emotional responses to stress.  Not everything that causes us stress is immediate, sometimes it happens over a prolonged period of time.  However, if we pay attention to our physiological responses we can still recognize and respond accordingly.  If any of these signs and symptoms stand out to you chances are they are the best indicators of sneaky stress in your life.  Evaluate these areas often and note any changes that you notice.  Once you have started regularly monitoring your emotional, psychological, as well as your physiological patterns, you will be able to recognize the signs of stress earlier and deal with it in a more effective way.