The world seems to be upside down right now.  Stress is at an all-time high, and doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Disclaimer, I am not a physician, nurse, registered dietician, physical therapist, or mental health professional.  This is my story and what I have done and learned over the course of my journey.  If you plan to start a diet or exercise program, please get approval from your doctor.

Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances” or “something that causes mental strain”.

Stress can manifest in many different ways in our bodies.  It can be psychological, or physical.  It can increase headaches, acne, rapid heartbeat, sweating, changes in appetite, and digestive health issues such as bloating, nausea, and vomiting.  It can cause chronic pain and more frequent bouts of sickness including infections.

Stress and anxiety are very closely related.  They go hand in hand.  They can share many different symptoms such as muscle tension, moodiness, sleep interruptions, lack of concentration, and digestive problems.

Stress is a normal human reaction that has been built to trigger our fight-or-flight response.  We have all heard the story of the caveman facing the tiger, right?  It helps keep us alive.  That is what we call short-term stress.

In today’s world, we have many of the same modes but they have taken various forms and resulted in more of a long-term modality, like financial, a bad job or boss, layoffs, robberies, rape, or unhinged or politically driven individuals that walks into a school, church, or mass event with bombs and automatic weapons.  Countries and people are being persecuted for their beliefs.  Hostages being taken, and wars breaking out. All we have to do is watch the news.

The current state of our world today keeps us in a state of “chronic” or continuing stress.  Our bodies never get the opportunity to reset.  Our cortisol and adrenalin levels remain high for extended periods and begin manifesting physical and psychological symptoms.

Maybe you are going through an upcoming big test, or found that your partner cheated on you. How about a messy divorce, or a child that is on drugs, or going the wrong way in life? Then it could be the death of a family member or members. The loss of a beloved pet, or a sick child.  Maybe you just received a very serious diagnosis. Then there is the loss of a job, with your income and benefits along with it.

The loss of a job, divorce and health diagnosis, are huge. Then can and will cascade into financial stress. The threat of bankruptcy, and losing your home with nowhere to go, might be around the corner. All of these things come with an attached debt factor.

The pathway from chronic stress might look like this

Stress > Anxiety (Panic Attacks) > Depression > Attempted Suicide > Death

The World Health Organization estimates that over 5% of the global adult population is suffering from depression.  That is 400M people. Chronic or continuing stress is difficult on the body.  

Symptoms of Stress/Depression

According to, 

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Chest pain or a felling like your heart is racing
  • Exhaustion or trouble sleeping
  • Headaches, dizziness or shaking
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension or jaw clenching
  • Stomach or digestive problems
  • Decreased Libido
  • Weak immune system

Stress can lead to emotional and mental symptoms like

  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Sadness

Often, people with chronic stress try to manage it with unhealthy behaviors including:

  • Drinking alcohol too much and too often
  • Gambling
  • Overeating or developing eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia
  • Smoking
  • Using drugs

Things you can do to improve your mood

Because stress is subjective, which means there is no test in which to measure it,  only the person experiencing the stress knows the extent of its severity.

If you are experiencing stress, what are some of the things you can do to help yourself?

  • Get out in the sun and go for a walk
  • Exercise
  • Practicing Moments of Gratitude
  • Set goals for each day, week, and month.  Narrowing your view will help you feel more in control.
  • Consider talking to a trusted friend if you have one
  • Consider talking to a therapist
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Chair Yoga for those who are limited
  • Tai Chi
  • Breathing exercises
  • Muscle relaxation exercises
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Try and disconnect from social media and TV for a better night’s sleep
  • Stay positive
  • Except that you cannot control everything
  • Learn to say “no” to friends and family
  • Journaling
  • Stay connected to people who keep you calm or make you happy
  • If that is not an option, then listen to a motivating podcast or YouTube Channel.

Warning Signs of Depression

Here are a few warning signs someone might display if they are experiencing high levels of stress and depression:

  • Talking out wanting to die, guilt, shame, or being a burden to others.
  • Feelings of 
    • Emptiness, hopelessness, trapped, or no reason to live
    • Extremely sad, anxious, agitated, or full of rage
    • Unbearable emotional or physical pain
  • Making a plan or researching ways to die
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, school, or work.
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Using drugs/alcohol more
  • Eating or sleeping more or less

The World Health Organization estimates that over 703,000 people globally commit suicide each year.  Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and is the fourth leading cause of death among those 15-29 years of age.  The highest suicide rate is those 85 and older.  Males are 4x more likely to commit suicide than females.  

According to the CDC (2021) stats, 48,183 people committed suicide.  That equates to 132 suicides each day. Suicide is the number 11 cause of death in the United States. It is number 4 for the ages of 15-29. It is highest in individuals over 85 years of age. If you or someone you love begin to feel overwhelmed, talk to a medical professional immediately.   If you are abusing drugs and alcohol, please get help.

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself, please seek a professional or reach out to the Suicide Hotline at:

Text 988 on your phone 

Chat on the web at

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Text “Hello” to 741741 for the crisis text line

The hotline is also for caregivers.  If you are concerned for someone, you can call this number as well.

We don’t need to shy away from this topic just because it is very uncomfortable.  This is not something that just goes away, if allowed, it can manifest.  It all starts with stress.

If you have kids, learn the warning signs. If you have a friend or family member exhibiting some of these characteristics, please reach out and try to have that coversation. If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, please ask the staff how they are doing and look for signs of disassociation, depression, not wanting to eat, not wanting to get out of bed or socialize. These could be all signs of depression.