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Too Stressed? Take the Stress Test

The textbook definition of stress boils down to "if you're alive, you're stressed". So, if you say you're not, then you're either lying or dead. We all have stress - every age group, gender and walk of life.

The way you experience and respond to stress depends on your physical and mental health. What totally stresses you out might not even faze the next guy.

So, how do you know if you have too much stress, or badly managed stress?

If any of the following situations sound familiar, and you experience them frequently, then you may be headed for some serious health problems.

- You think you "function just fine" on 5 or 6 hours of sleep

- Your brain won't shut off and you toss and turn all night

- You get an overwhelming feeling of dread as you wake to face the day

- You have obstacle course dreams, treadmill dreams, repetitive dreams or worry dreams that seem to go on all night

- Your shoulders and/or back are in knots, but you think "that's normal for me"

- Your face is pinched and your jaw is set and your eyes are squinting. Try something. Relax your face and see what happens. See? Ahhhh...

- Your head feels like its going to burst open or pop off due to a massive headache or migraine

- You can't poop or you're pooping all the time

- You constantly worry about getting a horrible disease

- You feel nauseous and you're retching in the a.m. - every day, or just sometimes...

- It seems you're always sick, or getting sick, or just getting done being sick

- You're finding a lot of hair in the shower drain

- You get zits

- Your eyes or lips twitch

- You don't have the energy you used to, and you don't know why

- You break out in hives

- Your hands shake. Are they shaking now?

- You're fidgety - tap tap tapping or bouncing or jiggling

- You bite your nails

- Your chest gets tight and it's hard to breathe

- Your throat gets small and it's hard to swallow

- You pick your lip or chew the inside of your cheek

- You grind your teeth

- You clear your throat a lot (phlegm stress)

- You feel lost

- You're gaining weight but you're not eating more than usual

- You're eating everything that's not nailed down

- You're eating junk food or fast food

- You're not hungry at all and can't imagine eating

- You're losing weight because you don't have the time or energy or desire to eat

- You decide your friends are no longer your friends

- I love you. I hate you. Leave me alone. Don't leave me.

- You stop being a good friend/mother/wife/husband/sister because you're too busy

- The blame game is the only game in town

- You say things like, "I'm sorry I'm taking everything out on you"

- You're late for everything

- You BURST OUT crying in the grocery store

- You're hyper-critical of the ones you love the most... and of everyone else

- You say really hurtful and inappropriate things

- You BURST OUT laughing at a funeral

- You can't stop yelling at your husband or your kids

- You want to punch something

- You throw a ping pong paddle at your friend and flip them the double bird, screaming "I hate you!"

- You find the ice cream in the pantry the day after you unload the groceries

- You leave your keys in the car...or the freezer

- Simple math is hard math

- You're looking for your glasses and they're on your head

- You think everything would be better if you just have a drink... or 5

- You smoke too much pot. Is that possible? Kidding...

- You think one more little valium couldn't hurt

- You chain smoke every chance you get

- You don't smoke but you want a cigarette anyway

- You spend $1000 on a feather bed but you can't pay your rent

- You're convinced you're going to die a pauper

- You're clumsy - you trip over, run into, drop and spill things

- You're avoiding work or friends or events

- You're go, go, go all the time

- Thoughts swirl around your head and you fixate on things

- You not only sweat the small stuff but you also... um...sweat

- You 'hide' from the real world in inappropriate places where you can "just be yourself"

- You don't take care of yourself because you're too busy

- You're having health issues

- You stress about stress

If some of these things sound just a little too much like you or someone you love, then it's time to take action to reduce the stress.

We all experience short term stress once in a while and we're generally equipped to deal with it. The real scary problem is your prolonged or long-term stress. The constant daily pressures that you "just live with" can be the path to disease and even sudden death.

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