Trusted guide to mental, emotional & social health
Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes
Improving Your Ability to Handle Stress
Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and
motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode,
your mind and body pay the price. If you frequently find yourself feeling frazzled and
overwhelmed, it’s time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance. You
can protect yourself — and improve how you think and feel — by learning how to
recognize the signs and symptoms of chronic stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful
What is stress?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense
danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body's defenses kick into high gear in a rapid,
automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the "stress response".
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps
you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your
life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on
the brakes to avoid an accident.