The importance of noticing our stress cues

The earlier we become aware of our stress cues and take steps to deal with our stress in a healthy and productive way the stronger our resilience.

It is easy to overlook the messages that our body sends us. We have numerous early indicators of stress that are often ignored until the symptoms progress and force our attention. The earlier we become aware of our stress cues and take steps to deal with our stress in a healthy and productive way the stronger our resilience.

Symptoms of stress can include:
  • Our Body: change in appetite, headaches, muscle pains, tired feeling, sleeplessness, colds, upset stomach, rashes or hives, pounding heart
  • Our Thoughts: forgetful, confused, can’t concentrate, mind races, bored, spaced out, negative thoughts
  • Our Feelings: anxious, edgy, sad, frustrated, mood swings, irritable, worrying, discouraged, cry easily
  • Our Relationships: want to be left alone, lonely, resentful, nagging, distrust, clamming up, lowered sex drive, anger outbursts
  • Our Spirituality: feel empty, loss of meaning, feel unworthy, doubtful, feel used, uncaring
  • Our Behaviors: smoking more, increased use of medicines, drinking more alcohol, tics, yelling, slamming doors, having accidents

Michigan State University Extension educators teach Stress Less with Mindfulness, which is a practice to manage and reduce stress for parents, caregivers and children. The classes are based on the West Virginia University curriculum developed by Jane Riffe, Ed.D, LICSW, and were recently a part of the Charlevoix Emmet Child Abuse Prevention conference and the Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, Roscommon GreatStart Childcare conference.

One skill that is taught in Stress Less with Mindfulness is to notice our stress signals, and then mindfully attend to our breath. Slow and deep breathing for 3 minutes has been shown to have lasting physical, mental and emotional health benefits.

Increasing mindful breathing to ten minutes daily can decrease:
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetics: Better able to control blood glucose
  • Sleep issues
  • Cardiac risk factors, including lowered blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Improved immunity, based on blood samples

The benefits across health indicators and our own stress barometers call us to notice our stress and attend to it, mindfully and with compassion.

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