11/04/2013 05:32 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

How to Recognize Stress Before It's Too Late

We all know that stress is often called the "silent killer."

Stress can result in high blood pressure, worsening diabetes, heart disease, it can play havoc with mental illness and even be a trigger for the formation of cancer cells. Given that this has been studied and documented, what steps can we take to prevent our own ride down that slippery slope?

This article will give you three tell-tale signs that you are overloaded by stress, and would benefit from making changes. It is said that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

So how do you know when you are stressed?

1) Feelings on edge -- Some of us live our lives distant to our emotions in order to function in our high-paced society. We bite our lip when we are angry or we suppress the emotion of sadness in public. Yet, we still have awareness when we are feeling short or on edge. Feeling emotions and being aware is incredibly helpful to our health. When you start to feel short, easily bothered or not really yourself, these are tell-tale signs of stress.

Most of us can let things roll off of our backs. We all, however, have a 'tipping point' when we feel more on edge some days compared to others. This tipping point is sometimes tipped hormonally for women, and for yet others can be affected by sleep deprivation amongst other factors. Regardless of the specific trigger, we all can turn into Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde alter-egos. Simply having the awareness that we don't feel like ourselves, we are feeling short or out of sorts, is an excellent sign of higher stress levels.

2) Frequent Colds or Infections -- Our body is an excellent tool to tell us how we are doing emotionally and mentally. Sometimes, we can put a cold down to being around sick co-workers. Yet, there is always that odd person at work who does not get sick. Why not? He or she normally presents with an excellent immune system, and can fight off anything that comes his or her way. Our immune system is directly related to many factors. This includes our sleep-wake cycle, our diet, exercise and our stress levels amongst others. Heightened stress levels first show up as frequent colds, viruses, or flu bugs that keep coming our way. This in itself is a tell tale sign of the body and it's stress levels.

3) Sleep deprivation -- Stress can sometimes show up as poor sleep habits. Now with the corner coffee store and over the counter sleep aides, some of us pay little attention as to our sleep. Difficulty with sleep is an obvious sign that the mind is too busy to process what is going on. Decreasing the triggers and calming the crazy 'monkey mind' is an excellent treatment for restoring sleep health. With lack of sleep comes added problems, but can be the first sign that we are out of balance.

These are the three of the early signs of high stress. Once we have the awareness that this is occurring, we have the ability to shift it. Why wait till a more major illnesses happens?

In the tens of thousands of "sick" clients that I have worked with, the vast majority always knew that their lives were out of balance. I believe that stress is like a warning sign for us to change something now.

What can you do with that stress? There are thousands of stress reduction techniques. The key is to learn a few and then more importantly, apply them to your life regularly. Everything from deep breathing to visualization to yoga to meditation to even walking in the woods have been studied to significantly decrease stress levels. Imagine what your life would be like with less stress?

Why wait? If your body is sending you cues, then it is time to listen to them. As you start to pay attention, you will be happy that you slowed down, listened and made changes that help you out in the long run.

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