An old milk commercial once showed a crying, distraught cow watching her best friend, a young girl, going to school. The idea of emotional cows may seem ludicrous, but research actually shows that cows have best friends and do get stressed when separated from them. This unusual fact about stress helps illustrate the far-reaching impact of stress even beyond human uniqueness.

While a stressed-out cow may have little meaning for your own over-stressed life, perhaps the following facts about stress might.

Symptoms and Causes of Stress

Everyone knows that stress impacts physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. But do we really realize the extent of its control? The symptoms of stress include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Moodiness
  • Negativity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Agitation
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Unhappiness
  • Digestive problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Neglect
  • Nervousness
  • Overeating
  • Dizziness
  • Loneliness
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Aches and pains
  • Inability to relax

Those are just the symptoms, not the actual causes. Some of the causes include:

  • Conflict
  • Life
  • Another’s stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Relationships
  • Money
  • Work
  • Grief
  • Guilt
  • Unexpressed anger
  • Health issues

When we consider the distance stress will take to rule our lives, should we not also consider the great lengths we must be willing to go to if we are to end its reign?

Drawn Tight

The term stress comes from the Latin word “stringere” which means “to draw tight.” Can you relate to a feeling of being drawn tight, perhaps as tight as you think you can go, as tight as you’ve ever gone before? Most people can. Do you even remember not feeling that way?

Sure, we find moments of relief watching mindless television, tweeting, or shopping with friends. But the source of stress always awaits our return, ready to tighten the strings once again.

Stress’ domain seems to be growing, too. Even in a culture with all we want continually, easily, and readily at our fingertips, more people seem chronically over-stressed. Even kids and teenagers experience stress well beyond what their maturity level can handle. Why does stress seem to be getting worse when we have so many ways to relax?

Change is Possible

Want stress to be a healthy part of your life instead of a fascist dictator? Want to feel like you’re running on smooth terrain instead of continually wading through thigh-deep mud?

Change is possible if we get into the details of stress in our lives with the goal of finding permanent solutions. We can get to the root causes of stress rather than simply treating the symptoms and numbing the consequences of living chronically high-stressed lives if we’re willing to go beyond the symptoms and attack the root cause of stress.