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Physical symptoms of stress may include: 

  • Headache   
  • Fatigue  
  • Insomnia   
  • Digestive changes, such as becoming more prone to diarrhoea 
  • Loss of appetite or overeating (especially of ‘comfort foods’)    
  • Increased use of tobacco or alcohol    
  • Muscle tension (e.g. neck or backache)
  • Nervousness and a tendency to be easily startled

Psychological symptoms may include:

  • Tension or anxiety  
  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  • Anger and aggression   
  • Poor decision making 
  • Memory problems and poor concentration 
  • Increased irritability   

Diet and lifestyle suggestions:

  • Emotional and practical social support is a very important aspect of stress management. Often talking your problems over with someone helps you to see things from a different slant. If there is no family member or friend whom you feel comfortable talking to or asking for help, ask your healthcare professional for a referral to a counsellor, psychologist or social worker who can help you to pinpoint events or conditions that are stressful to you, and to devise ways of reducing the stress they cause. 
  • Maintaining your physical health has a strong benefit for your mental health too. When you are under a lot of stress, pay extra attention to your diet and exercise routine. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary and fatty foods, which can lead to declining energy levels, and aim for a balanced diet to ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. 
  • Schedule regular periods of activities that you find relaxing. This can mean anything from walking the dog to watching a funny movie or going out to dinner with friends. Massage is also of benefit, and as well as being relaxing can help to improve your sleep and relieve muscle tension.
  • Your body is less likely to be affected by stress when it's in good health. Stop smoking, commence a regular exercise programme and maintain a balanced diet, and you will find that you’re better able to cope with stressful circumstances. 
  • If you know that you are particularly susceptible to stress, consider taking up meditation or doing a course to develop new problem-solving skills. Sometimes changing the way you look at problems changes the way you react to them. For help in these areas, ask your healthcare professional to refer you to a teacher in your area.

Published: Oct 18, 2010 8:50am

Last updated: Oct 18, 2010 8:51am

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