Updated: Jun 25
America's (and most of the world!) #1 health problem is pervasive, sometimes invisible, always addressable.
People have very different ideas with respect to their definition of stress.
Probably the most common is,“physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.”
Another popular definition of stress is “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
Contemporary stress tends to be more pervasive, persistent and insidious because it stems primarily from psychological rather than from physical threats.
Stress differs for each of us. We respond to stress differently. There are numerous physical as well as emotional responses (see 50 common signs and symptoms of stress in next page), although numerous surveys and studies confirm that occupational pressures and fears are far and away the leading source of stress for American adults and that these have steadily increased over the past few decades.
50 Symptoms of Stress. What is yours?
Frequent headaches, jaw clenching, pain
Gritting, grinding teeth
Stuttering or stammering
Tremors, trembling of lips, hands
Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
Lightheadedness, faintness, dizziness
Ringing, buzzing or “popping sounds
Frequent blushing, sweating
Cold or sweaty hands, feet
Dry mouth, problems swallowing
Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores
Rashes, itching, hives, “goose bumps”
Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks
Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
Excess belching, flatulence
Constipation, diarrhea, loss of control
Difficulty breathing, frequent sighing
Sudden attacks of life threatening panic
Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse
Diminished sexual desire or performance
Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
Increased anger, frustration, hostility
Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
Increased or decreased appetite
Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
Trouble learning new information
Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
Difficulty in making decisions
Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed
Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
Little interest in appearance, punctuality
Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping
Increased frustration, irritability, edginess
Overreaction to petty annoyances
Increased number of minor accidents
Obsessive or compulsive behavior
Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness
Rapid or mumbled speech
Reduced work efficiency or productivity
Lies or excuses to cover up poor work
Problems in communication, sharing
Social withdrawal and isolation
Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs
Weight gain or loss without diet
Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use
Excessive gambling or impulse buying
From stress and burnout to Mental Fitness
Mental fitness can be defined as having and maintaining a state of well-being and cultivating awareness of how we think, behave and feel. When we're mentally fit, the way we interact with the world is different.
Just as physical fitness provides us with an increased ability to respond to life in all its richness, mental fitness helps in the same way. It provides us more space to choose how to respond to a situation, whether that situation is a forethought, an external stimulus, or a feeling. As a result, we are less likely to sustain (or cause) emotional and relational injury. In the same way that our physical fitness also affects our mental health, our mental fitness ultimately affects our physical health and wellness.
When you are more mentally fit, you recognize that you have a choice when that first angry statement comes your way.
Mental fitness gives you the ability to pause and respond in the way you would like, in the moment, rather than having to reset or mend fences later. In some ways, it’s like accessing the wisdom of hindsight in the present moment.