Health & Wellness


In small doses, stress can help you stay energized and focused. But when it’s chronic or overwhelming, it can damage your health, productivity, and well-being. Learn the warning signs and what you can do to protect yourself.

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Stress FAQs

What is stress?
Stress is the body’s natural response to danger, either real or imagined. When you feel threatened in some way, your body activates the stress response or “fight-or-flight” mode to keep you safe. Stress hormones flood your body, physically energizing you and increasing your mental alertness. This enables you to cope with an emergency situation, whether it’s fleeing danger, coping with a work deadline, or swerving to avoid a traffic collision. However, when activated constantly, the stress response stops being useful and starts to cause damage—to your health, mood, and overall quality of life.
What are the signs and symptoms of stress?
Stress comes with physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. Physical symptoms include increased heartbeat, rapid breathing, and tension as your body prepares to fight or flee. In the long-term, it can cause stiffness, chest tightness, or fatigue. Cognitive signs of stress can involve racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, and impaired memory, while emotional symptoms include feeling overwhelmed, agitated, depressed, and isolated.
What is eustress?
Eustress is a manageable level of stress that is perceived as beneficial. This could include the stress you feel during a first date, on a job interview, or while making a presentation at work, for example. In each case, stress positively motivates you to stay focused and energized, learn new skills, and achieve a goal. Eustress is the opposite end of the spectrum to distress, the damaging stress that makes you feel overwhelmed and disrupts your mood, sleep, and overall health.
How does stress affect your body?
When you’re under stress, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline, and prompts bodily changes such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, quick breathing, and muscle tension. While possibly useful in the moment to escape danger, over time stress can harm your body, disrupt your sleep, suppress your immune system, and affect your appetite. Tense muscles can contribute to headaches, migraines, and other bodily aches. Increased blood pressure and heart rate can put you at risk for heart attack, hypertension, and stroke.
How do I tell if it's a stress rash or stress hives?
Stress can trigger all sorts of physical reactions, including a rash, which is an area of irritated skin. Stress hives are a type of rash that takes the form of raised bumps or welts. They might be red, itchy, and so numerous that they look like one large patch of raised skin. When you’re under stress, your body releases a chemical called histamine, which may then create inflamed bumps. Scratching hives can release more histamine and worsen the condition. Instead, try using an antihistamine. A cold compress might also help you cope with the itching.