• National Stress Awareness Month

According to the American Psychological Association, 78% of Americans reported experiencing at least one stress symptom in the past year. Stress, along with mental health, is one of the biggest public health challenges affecting individuals of various ages, races, and genders. Read as Dinery Egan, LMFT, and Maribel Torres, LCSW at the UCR Health Comprehensive Psychiatric Services share their expertise in recognizing and handling stress. This issue can stem from work, home life, societal pressures, and personal challenges, significantly exacerbating stress symptoms for many people, however, Dinery and Maribel ensure you don't need to battle it yourself.

Maribel Torres, LCSW

What is stress? 

Stress is the body's response to pressure, triggered by various situations or life events. It typically arises when we encounter something new, unexpected, or challenging that makes us feel out of control. When stressed, our body produces stress hormones that help us respond quickly in dangerous situations (flight, fight, freeze) response. While stress responses can be helpful in some scenarios, excessive stress can have negative effects, leaving us feeling overwhelmed or anxious all the time.

“Our mind and body are connected. When your mental health is not doing well, it impacts your physical health.  When your  physical health is not doing well, it impacts your mental health” - Maribel Torres, LCSW

What are the symptoms of stress? 

Stress can be triggered by various events. Maturational is normal stress during the course of life (like divorce, marriage, the birth of a child, retirement) and situational is a sudden traumatic event that is unexpected (like loss of a job, illness, death of a loved one, death of a pet, birthdays). Many adults experience symptoms of stress such as:

Dinery Egan, LMFT
  • Anxiety 
  • Worry 
  • Feeling Overwhelmed 
  • Sadness
  • Irritability 
  • Feeling on edge 
  • Suicidal thoughts 

Some physical symptoms may include:

  • Headaches/lightheadedness/dizziness
  • Nausea/digestive problems 
  • Muscle tensions (jaw, shoulders, arms, stomach, legs, back)
  • Change of appetite/weight 
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Heartaches/accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating  

Individuals experiencing stress may withdraw from social interactions, neglect responsibilities, or turn to substances like alcohol or tobacco. Recognizing these symptoms in oneself or others is crucial to prevent long-term stress-related issues.

How to help? 

Stress is a common emotion in many individuals day to day life, however, to manage it effectively, it's important to recognize its symptoms and triggers. Some ways to help and feel less stressed include: 

  • Recognizing the issue: Recognize your symptoms of stress and the triggers that may cause it. With any mental health, addressing the symptoms as an issue is always the most important step to seeking help and improving yourself. Although you can’t control your symptoms of stress, you can take control of the small triggers of stress.  
  • Limit Stressful Triggers: Minimize exposure to situations that may increase your stress. If a situation is known to make you more stressed, take a step away; this may include declining additional commitments.
  • Develop Health Habits: Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and regular exercise may improve your physical and mental well-being. 
  • Build Supportive Relationships: Talking to friends or family about your feelings and symptoms can help bring you support and comfort in tackling your mental health. Surrounding yourself with supportive people can often help take your mind off of the stress.
  • Stress Monitoring: Apps such as Sanvello, Bloom or the Calm App can help you monitor your stress as well as provide self-care methods. 
  • Seek Professional Help: If your symptoms of stress begin to affect your daily life, seek help from a mental health professional or therapist. They can offer additional support, guidance, or medication to help reduce your stress levels. 
  • Resources: (988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, National Mental Health Hotline 1866-903-3787, California Peer-Run Warmline 1800-845-6264, SAMHSA National Helpline 1800-662-4357)

Stress is a natural human response to challenging situations. While short-term stress can be beneficial, long-term stress can have detrimental effects on physical and mental health. Recognizing and addressing stress symptoms in oneself or loved ones is essential for maintaining overall well-being.

About UCR Health

UCR Health is comprised of a team of physicians, specialists, and healthcare professionals dedicated to improving people’s health. With five medical offices located throughout the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley, UCR Health is growing to meet the healthcare needs of the region, bringing innovative, culturally sensitive medical care to the community. Established alongside the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, UCR Health’s patient-centered primary care and specialty services deliver university-based healthcare excellence and innovation to all communities.