The Many Faces Of Stress
By Katy Berninger
I remember waking up in the middle of night and having the most excruciating headache I had ever experienced. Recounting the pain to my parents the next day, I compared my headache to that of having someone take a knife and repeatedly stab my head.
My very alarmed parents asked me if I was stressed in anyway and was there something that was weighing on my mind or causing an extra burden. I told them no, there wasn't anything in particular. Besides, I thought, I would know if I were stressed.
Low and behold, my curiosity to find out what had caused my headache led me to the Internet and to a symptom of stress, which I think is very appropriately named an “ice pick headache.”
Scanning the Internet I found an abundant amount of information on this type of headache and came to the conclusion that perhaps I was stressed. Maybe, contrary to my own beliefs, sometimes we don't realize when we're stressed.
What the University of Florida Counseling Center (UFCC) explains is that “symptoms of stress come in many forms.” I was experiencing headaches for months before it culminated into one massive headache that forced to me to pay attention to what my body was telling me. I had no idea that it was because of stress, and I assumed that if I were legitimately feeling a strain in some aspect of my life that my reaction would be more emotional.
The UFCC acknowledges that stress can disguise itself in a variety of ways. It becomes our job to recognize when a headache is not just any headache, or the anger you feel is far more deep rooted.
Our inability to recognize symptoms of stress is why it is crucial for there to be more education on the topic and the effects it can have on our bodies and minds. We will be better equipped to handle stress if we know what to look for.
The UFCC is taking a step towards bringing awareness to this very issue, and knows that stress is so common that people tend to forget that it is there. I went about my daily life completely oblivious that I was stressed. Once I paid attention to how I was feeling I was better able to pinpoint what was causing the stress in my life, and remedy the situation.
For many people, including myself, I think there tends to be a disconnect between what we think stress is and how we expect our bodies to react. I immediately brushed off the idea that I was under any type of stress because I didn't exhibit any of the, what I thought, were common symptoms.
Looking back I realize that I should have been paying better attention. Perhaps, now when you notice small changes in your body or mind you will take care of yourself. I know I have learned my lesson.