Stress is all around us and impacts our mental health on a daily basis. In fact, according to statistics from the American Institute of Stress, 77% of the Americans experience regular physical symptoms of stress, and 73% regularly experience different, psychological symptoms. 
Even more concerning, is the fact that the average stress levels keep increasing, steadily, as time goes on. Unsurprisingly, the most common culprits of stress are  :
- Personal relationships
- Big life changes
The health effects of stress become even more significant when acute (situational) stress becomes chronic. This chronic stress can result in a decreased quality of life, increased predisposition to illnesses, hormonal problems, and many other disturbing physical and physiological effects.
This article is dedicated to highlighting the different stress symptoms that you may often recognize but neglect. If you know and understand how stress manifests itself in symptoms, you can then take the measures necessary to relieve it, or counteract some of its impact on your health.
Let’s get started!
What are the physical symptoms of stress?
According to a 2017 review paper, published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, prolonged stress exposure may result in the following symptoms  :
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Changes in the gastrointestinal tract movement: diarrhea/ constipation, upset stomach.
- Reduced nutrients absorption in the gastrointestinal tract (you get less nutrients from your food, which can lead to malnutrition in the long run).
- Memory decline: you start forgetting things.
- Impaired learning ability and inability to concentrate.
- Headache or chest pain.
- Energy flow (in acute stress) or severe fatigue/tiredness (in chronic stress).
- Weakened immune system (thus, you become more predisposed to cold, flu, viruses, infections, and inflammatory diseases).
- Hormonal imbalance: changes secretion of metabolism, sex, and other hormones in the body. This can lead to reduced sex drive, and weight changes.
As you can see, prolonged exposure to stress can make your body vulnerable to a wide variety of physiological diseases and health issues.
Any of these symptoms above can be signs your stress is being poorly managed. These symptoms can act as warning signs to have your health further investigated and to try and better manage the levels of stress in your life.
What are the psychological effects of stress?
Along with the physical symptoms, stress also affects your mood and behavior. According to the MayoClinic, common psychological stress signs include  :
- Anxiety. Feeling worried, afraid, insecure, doubtful, and uncertain about yourself or the circumstances around you. It can also lead to overthinking and obsessive thoughts.
- Eating disorders and appetite changes. They are characterized by a desire to either eat huge amounts of food, or stop eating at all. This is often associated with feeling extreme guilt after (over)eating.
- Restlessness. Lack of ability to concentrate, rest or relax. Instead, you move around constantly.
- Sudden irritability and angry outbursts.
- Drug, alcohol, or tobacco misuse (with intent to cope with certain situations.)
- Feeling overwhelmed: inability to perform tasks normally.
- Social withdrawal.
- Sadness and depression.
Can stress be a good thing?
Stress is basically your body’s response to perceived challenges and threats. And while people associate the word “stress” with negativity and health issues, some (small) amounts of stress can actually be beneficial in specific situations.
That being said, there’s a thin line between positive and negative stress, and more often, stress is having a negative health effect.
We often can’t control the amount of stress we endure in our lives, however, we can control how we respond to it. This is why it is so important to figure out coping strategies that work for you.
How to cope with stress?
HelpGuideOrg shares 8 tips that can help you to manage stress effectively  :
1.Identify your stress response:
a) Look at your habits, attitudes, and excuses that you make.
2. Practice the 4A’s of stress management
a) Avoid unnecessary stress: people that stress you out, control your “to-do” list, learn to say “no”, and take control of your environment.
b) Alter the situation: express your feelings, compromise, and balance your schedule.
c) Adapt to the stressor: reframe problems, look at the bigger picture, set reasonable standards, and practice gratitude.
d) Accept the things you can’t change: don’t try to control the uncontrollable, perceive changes as opportunities- not threats, learn to forgive.
3. Get moving: use physical exercise (including walking or dancing) as a stress relieve activity, even if you’re not feeling like working out.
4. Connect to others: Be social! As humans, we are social by nature, so bonding with your family, community, close friends, or spending time with your loved ones can be extremely beneficial when it comes to stress relief.
5. Make time for fun and relaxation: do something you enjoy, integrate entertainment in your schedule, and find time to simply relax.
6. Manage your time better: prioritize, share your responsibilities, don’t overcommit yourself.
7. Adopt a healthy lifestyle: a balanced diet, enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee can significantly support healthy stress levels.
8. Learn to relieve stress at the moment: instead of accumulating it.