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  /  Ayurveda   /  Stress: Signs, Symptoms & Management

Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed and being unable to handle the mental and emotional strain. Stress is something that you’ve encountered at one point or another. Multiple triggers could lead to different types of stress. Although experts say that some stress is okay, as it brings focus and attention to the task at hand, continuous exposure to stressful situations is detrimental to physical as well as mental well-being.

Studies have reported that 59% of adults have experienced high levels of stress. It is important to recognize what causes stress, how it affects our body and how to reduce stress.


What Causes Stress?

For many, identifying stressful situations and recognizing what causes stress is important because they’re so used to this feeling that they tend not to understand the impact it could have. This trend then continues till it leads to a significant breakdown in emotional, mental or physical health. Once you know your triggers, you can focus on how to relieve stress.

It’s usually triggered by events and situations that occur in your life or constantly thinking and worrying about circumstances that you do not have much control over. Some individuals also feel stressed with their responsibilities and in times of uncertainty.

Stress can be brought about as a response to internal as well as external elements. Although your external triggers could be unique, typical situations that cause stress include:

  • Coping with relationships
  • Disciplining your kids
  • Handling situations at work or 
  • About matters relating to finances

These are just a few of the many aspects of everyday life that can lead to stress.

Among the internal aspects, a few notable reasons could be your body’s ability to cope with specific types of stress that certain situations bring about. Other factors such as the amount of rest or sleep you get, your overall emotional well-being and your health also have a bearing on how you handle stressful situations.


What Happens to the Body During Stress?

The modern lifestyle brings with it excessive stress and this is one of the main reasons that it’s considered a negative experience. However, from a purely biological perspective, stress is just another physiological reaction that your body experiences.

The primary response of the body to stressful situations is to release neurochemicals and hormones that prepare us to handle the situation. Cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone in humans, amplifies the presence of sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream and helps increase your brain’s utilization of glucose.

This is termed the “fight or flight” response of the body. Cortisol also limits other bodily functions that are not essential when you’re faced with a fight-or-flight situation.

Although this response is meant to prepare you to face specific situations, if you don’t take appropriate action to reduce the stress, the response that was triggered in your body could lead to other health conditions. Constant and sudden exposure to such situations for an extended period could be detrimental.


What are the symptoms of stress?

In order to control stress, it is important to know its symptoms. However, recognizing the symptoms could be challenging because you may be so used to stressful situations that you may not even realize what’s actually causing it. Another aspect as highlighted before is that different situations induce stress in different people and you must identify these factors unique to you that could potentially cause you stress.

Some of the stress symptoms are:

Reduced energy and insomnia

Persistent exposure to stressful situations may lead to burnout and also affect sleep patterns, which means you don’t get enough rest. This in turn leads to reduced energy levels and fatigue. A study found that over 7,000 working professionals experienced fatigue due to work-related stress {1}. 

In addition to disturbed sleep patterns, stress also causes insomnia. A medical review found that regular exposure to stress was linked to an elevated risk of insomnia. Although stress is known to cause sleep disruptions, not everyone who undergoes stress will exhibit these symptoms. 

Digestive issues

Stress can also lead to digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea and other digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease {2}. Research has found increased symptoms of digestive disorders as a result of elevated levels of daily stress. A 2017 medical review found a direct correlation between irritable bowel syndrome and symptoms of stress that are not only a major cause for the emergence but also the aggravation of these digestive symptoms {3}.

That said, stress is not the only reason for the occurrence of these symptoms. Other factors such as infections and certain medications could also lead to these disorders.


Some research has submitted that chronic stress is associated with depression {4}. 

Frequent sickness

If you feel you’re constantly falling sick, stress could be one of the main contributors to your condition. This is because stress takes a significant toll on your immune system. Higher stress levels are known to increase the chances of infection {5}. 

Other research has established that psychological stress can impact many natural physiological functions such as your body’s healing as well as inflammatory counters of the body {6}.

Chronic pain

People who regularly experience high levels of stress also complain about multiple aches and pains. Research has found that chronic pain could be linked to higher levels of cortisol, which is released every time you’re stressed. {7}.

Stress can also impact your cognition, that is, your ability to perceive, understand and respond to everyday situations. Some of the cognitive symptoms of stress are a lack of focus, constant worrying, having perpetual thoughts and general disorganization.


Stress Management

Although given a choice, everybody would prefer a life without stress, it is a reality in today’s world. A few important lifestyle choices and long-lasting holistic solutions can help you manage stress and handle situations more effectively than you ever thought possible.


The first and most important step to overcome stress is accepting the fact that you are experiencing it. The sooner you accept that you’re stressed, the earlier you’ll be able to start doing something about it.


When you know you’re stressed, it is best to seek help from experts who can guide you towards solutions. You can consult with an Ayurveda specialist to understand the different treatments and options to help you de-stress. Ayurveda specialists offer personalized inputs about lifestyle, diet and exercises based on your condition. Counselors may also suggest other avenues such as yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic therapies and breathwork to help you deal with stress.


Yoga is effective in reducing stress and depression. Regular practice of yoga helps calm the central nervous system, helps regulate nerve impulses and may be effective in improving depression and other mental disorders {8}.

Breathing techniques

Yogic breathing techniques such as Kapal Bhati Pranayama and Bhastrika Pranayama are known to increase your lung capacity and help you relax and calm your mind (9}. Pranayam is a combination of two Sanskrit words – Prana (life force) & Ayama (controlling or directing).

Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is another practice that has been reported to be highly effective in treating stress as well as other stress-related disorders {10}. Research on Sudarshan Kriya Yoga has shown that it helps reduce cortisol levels, significantly increases mental focus, boosts immunity and improves sleep. It is also known to bring down clinical and non-clinical depression.


A stressful mind is one that is constantly riddled with thoughts. Regular meditation helps you become aware of your thoughts without getting attached to them and also helps you overcome your tendencies to constantly mull over them {11}. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and is regarded as a type of mind-body complementary medicine to attain a deep state of relaxation.

It helps you declutter the mind from the myriad thoughts that contribute to your stress and improves your emotional well-being as well as your overall health. A 15 to 20-minute session of meditation gives your body the same rest as eight hours of sleep and helps you go through your day with complete awareness while also improving your productivity.

Ayurveda therapies

Ayurvedic procedures such as Shirodhara that include a slow and steady dripping of medicated oils on the forehead bring about a relaxed state of awareness {12}.  

These treatments also help in calming nerves that lead to a restful state of mind and good sleep, which is especially helpful in treating insomnia {13}.


The Happiness Center conducts the “Happiness Program” regularly where you can learn Sudarshan Kriya Yoga as well as other effective breath and meditation techniques to help you overcome stress.

You can benefit from our stress relief package that is designed to help you eliminate accumulated stress. The package includes personalized Ayurvedic relaxation therapies, the breath and meditation workshop and tailor-made lifestyle recommendations to help you manage stress.

We conduct online and offline yoga sessions for beginners as well as advanced yoga practitioners.



Venkat - AuthorAbout the Author:

Venkat is a freelance writer and an SEO buff. He writes about health & wellness, technology and finance.



BMC Psychiatry: “Associations of fatigue to work-related stress, mental and physical health in an employed community sample.”

Journal of Tropical Pediatrics: “Association between Constipation and Stressful Life Events in a Cohort of Sri Lankan Children and Adolescents.” 

Gastrointestinal Pharmacology: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Stress-Related Psychiatric Co-morbidities: Focus on Early Life Stress.”

Depression and Anxiety: “Chronic and Acute Stress and the Prediction of Major Depression in Women.”

Molecular Biomedicine: “Chronic psychosocial stress: does it modulate immunity to the influenza vaccine in Hong Kong Chinese elderly caregivers?” 

Psychosomatic Medicine: “Influence of Psychological Stress on Upper Respiratory Infection—A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies.”

Brain: “The stress model of chronic pain: evidence from basal cortisol and hippocampal structure and function in humans.”

International Journal of Preventive Medicine: “The Effect of Yoga on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in Women.”

Frontiers in Psychology: “The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults.”

International Journal of Yoga: “Sudarshan kriya yoga: Breathing for health.”

Cambridge University Press Public Health Emergency Collection: “The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19.”

Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine: “Shirodhara: A psycho-physiological profile in healthy volunteers.”Global Advances in Health and Medicine: “Ayurvedic therapy (Shirodhara) for Insomnia: A Case Series.”