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Stress Test

How to tell if you're stressed out, plus what to do if you are.
Stress Test
Christopher Griffith

Do a Body Check

Got cold or sweaty palms, tense or twitching muscles, diarrhea, nausea, or dizziness? Is your heart pounding? Are you breathing rapidly? Clenching your jaw? The body releases adrenaline and cortisol when stressed, raising heart rate and BP—so any physical symptom can be a sign.

Do a Head Check

Suddenly unable to concentrate? Dwelling on negative thoughts or nagging worries? Irritable, or freaking out over small mistakes? Beating yourself up, or feeling overwhelmed? Anxious for a cigarette or a drink? Yup, that’s probably stress.

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Take Physical Action

Anything that relaxes you quickly is probably a stress beater. So take a few deep breaths—better yet, do a breathing exercise (see to learn how); listen to a guided mindfulness exercise (no eye-rolling—it really works) from; listen to calming music; watch a funny YouTube clip; or do five minutes of a favorite workout move or a 60-second yoga pose. 

Take Psychological Action

If emotional changes—fear, anger, frustration—accompany physical stressors, the actual stress will be greater, Yale’s John Mason found. So nip it in the bud by immediately ID’ing any stress-causing emotions and using positive self-talk—along with the physical strategies suggested above—till you’re calm again. 

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