Manage Your Stress

Stress can affect your body physically as well as affecting the way you think, act, and feel. Print this page out and mark below which of the following distress reactions you have experienced in response to stressful situations during the last month.

Physical Signs of Stress

  • pounding heart
  • elevated blood pressure
  • sweating or flushing
  • tightness of chest
  • shallow breathing
  • headache
  • tightness of neck or back muscles
  • diarrhea or vomiting
  • upset stomach or heartburn
  • sleep disturbances
  • fatigue
  • dryness of mouth/throat
  • susceptibility to minor illness, like colds
  • skin rashes
  • trembling, tics, or twitching
Mental Signs of Stress

  • forgetfulness
  • preoccupation
  • indecisiveness
  • lack of concentration
  • being resistant to new things or change
  • reduced creativity
  • loss of sense of humor
  • decreased productivity
  • lack of attention to details
  • mind racing or going blank confusion
  • being focused on the past
  • sleeping too much/too little
Behavioral Signs of Stress

  • eating more/less
  • drinking more alcohol
  • yelling at others
  • criticizing/blaming others
  • swearing
  • pacing/can’t sit still
  • smoking more
  • nail-biting
  • aggressive driving
  • carelessness
  • teeth grinding
  • withdrawal from social situations
Emotional Signs of Stress

  • irritability
  • angry outbursts
  • depression
  • anxiousness
  • fearfulness
  • low sense of self-esteem
  • critical of self
  • jealousy
  • suspiciousness
  • lack of interest
  • tendency to cry

Which symptoms of stress are most common for you?_______________________


What is your usual pattern for experiencing stress?________________________


What is most likely to happen first?_____________________________________


Do you exhibit some signs of stress in all areas?___________________________


Which symptoms cause the most problems for you?________________________


Recognizing your signs of stress can provide valuable signals that help you take immediate action to reduce the negative effects of your stress response.

It’s important to notice if you respond to stress in ways that are harmful to you and/or others — e.g., alcohol and other drug abuse, explosive temper, violence, reckless driving, depression. This awareness can help you identify responses that need to be changed.


Minaker KL, Burley D, Penny R, Haber D, Quinlan J, Coley C, Rosenthal D.
Stress Management Guidebook: Program for Lifelong Health Maintenance.
President and Fellows of Harvard College and Harvard University Health Services, Cambridge, MA. 1996.