Identifying the Signs of Emotional Distress and How to Deal With Them

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Stress is a rather misunderstood ailment. Some people chalk it up to having a bad day. Sometimes, people say it’s a bad week. Other times, they’ll say they’re just feeling down, a little stressed from work or feeling anxious about an upcoming event or meeting. Whatever the situation, it could be a cry for help or a subtle sign that you’re feeling emotional distress. Without an outlet to express your feelings and let people know, you’re going to suffer long-term psychological effects from bottling it up.

There are many signs that will tell you you’re having trouble coping. Instead of hiding these feelings behind a facade, it’s important to try and see the signs so you can fix those issues before they fester and become more pressing issues. So without further ado, let’s dive into the signs of emotional distress and how you can remedy those issues.



Identifying what stress is

First, let’s take a dive into what stress actually is and learn how to deal with it. Stress is the body’s natural way of responding to problems that involve us. These could be physical threats, such as the possibility of injuring yourself, or it could be sensing danger around the corner. Whether it’s a real threat or something in your mind, the idea of a threat can create stress and forces your body to respond automatically. This is what people usually refer to as a fight-or-flight response, and it’s usually what causes us to either take action in order to eliminate the threat or let it happen and stress us out.

Stress is actually a way to protect ourselves. When our bodies are functioning properly, stress helps us to make better decisions when under pressure and it can even save your life in emergency situations that you aren’t familiar with. It’s no exaggeration to say that stress can sometimes save your life, but it can also be damaging to your life if you let it fester for too long or if your body’s natural response to threats changes over time.

Stress can be helpful for meeting deadlines, protecting yourself and even keep you active during busy times at work. It will sharpen your senses and give you a better chance of overcoming challenges. However, too much stress can be a bad thing and there’s a certain point at which it stops becoming beneficial and actually puts you at risk. Too much of anything is bad for you, but it’s important not to alienate stress as a problematic thing because there are plenty of situations where it can be helpful to your body.

To identify what stress is, we need to see how it affects your body. When your body is under pressure, you will start to release stress hormones into your body. These cause your body to feel excited due to the adrenaline and cortisol in the hormones. This pumps you up to prepare you for action, and it’s that adrenaline that pushes you to take action. Your heart will beat faster, your blood pressure spikes and you’ll breath faster. Some people become more perceptive of their surroundings, and others find it easier to focus. Correctly utilising stress can be beneficial, but if you subject yourself to this stress on a regular basis, then your body will pay the price and you might attribute these feelings to negative situations.



The signs of stress

Emotional distress can have a number of different symptoms, and it’s important to understand what they are if you want a good chance of beating it back. First of all, we need to identify the different types of stress. There are four main groups of symptoms that can occur, and we divide them into cognitive symptoms, emotional symptoms, physical symptoms and finally behavioural symptoms. During emotionally stressful situations, cognitive, emotional and behavioural systems are the most common with some physical symptoms occurring under heavy loads of stress.

For cognitive symptoms, common issues include trouble remembering things and difficulty concentrating. If you find that it takes more effort to remember something and it becomes difficult to focus, then you might be experiencing cognitive symptoms of stress. Other issues include poor ability to make judgements, and constantly feeling negative with everything around you. If you’re only able to see the bad side of something, then it’s a good idea to take a breather or a moment to relax and meditate. Constantly worrying about things is also another sign of stress.

Emotional symptoms can include depression, anxiety, being moody and being overwhelmed with work or relationship matters. If you feel like you’re constantly under pressure from your peers, then it might be caused by your emotional distress. A feeling of isolation is also common in those suffering from emotional stress, and this can quickly spiral out of control and lead to mental health problems if they aren’t remedied quickly.

Lastly, let’s take a look at some behavioural symptoms. If you find that you’ve lost your appetite recently, then it could be a huge signal that you’re feeling emotional stress. Drastic weight gain or loss can also be attributed to the behavioural symptoms of stress. If you’re drinking more alcohol, using drugs or even smoking to help you calm your nerves, then it’s another clear sign that stress is getting to you and you should immediately seek help. Some people also develop nervous habits such as head scratching, playing with their phone or even biting their nails as a response to stress. If you find that you’ve developed a nervous habit recently, then it might be the result of emotional stress.

These are very general guidelines as to what the signs are, so make sure you take a good look at these symptoms and try to relate them to your situation. As mentioned before, physical symptoms can also occur, but these generally only happen as a result of extreme stress and you’ll likely see these symptoms before encountering any physical ones first. Remember that stress can also happen as a result of life events that almost everyone encounters at some point. This can include marriage, the loss of a job, the death of a friend or family member or even retirement.



Dealing with all types of stress

Everyone has different tolerance levels of stress, so it’s important to understand who is part of your support network and how much control you have over yourself during stressful situations. Some people find that using dogs as emotional support animal can be beneficial because they’re friendly, understanding and can sense human emotion. This can be great for anyone who is feeling anxious about human contact, be it in person or through the internet, and makes a great stepping stone to try and get someone out of their emotional slump.

Having a strong network of friends and family members, be it in person or over the internet or phone, is a great boon to anyone who wants to deal with their emotional issues. By surrounding yourself with positivity, it will eventually spread to your feelings and you’ll find it easier to deal with stress when it arises. When you have people to rely on, you’ll feel less lonely and alienated, which are two behavioural symptoms of those suffering from emotional distress.

It’s also important to try and identify what causes stress in you. Some people find it’s hard to speak in public and that causes a lot of anxiety, especially when it’s part of your job. Others find that stress arises when they’re rejected by friends, family members or potential dates, which could cause long-lasting mental damage if it’s not remedied as quickly as possible. Some people thrive under stress and thus seek to stress themselves out as much as possible to work more efficiently. Unfortunately, there are downsides to this and you might be pushing your body to its physical and mental limits.

Your ability to deal with emotionally stressful situations depends on a lot of different factors. If you’re unsure how to calm yourself, soothe your emotions or feel less alienated from the rest of the world, then consider joining support groups or speaking with close friends and family members about your problems. Although it’s not guaranteed to help you, it’s worth trying to identify what can help with your stress so that you’re less likely to succumb to emotional distress in the future.

Knowledge and preparation are two incredibly important factors when it comes to dealing with stress. The first few times you experience emotional distress (and you’re able to correctly identify it) you’ll find it difficult to act and you may find yourself sleeping for long periods of time or sitting at home without interacting with anyone. Experience helps when it comes to dealing with stress, so don’t be afraid to speak up or keep a diary of how you feel in order to look back in the future and find ways to break out of an emotional slump. Use the resources available to you, keep in touch with those close to you and you’ll quickly find a way to overcome emotional distress.

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