‘Really’ stressed! Watch out your word selection as it may tell stress level

‘Really’ stressed! Watch out your word selection as it may tell stress level

People who claim to know enough about the behavioral and physical signs of stress have more to look beyond usual warning signs, like troubled sleep and restlessness. The choice of words during a conversation can also tell if a person is under stress, suggests a recent study. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in November 2017, saw researchers analyzing language patterns of 22,000 voice samples.

After tracking certain frequently used words, they observed that volunteers who overused words such as “really” and “incredibly” had higher stress levels. The research, led by Matthias Mehl from the Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, particularly looked out for function words such as pronouns and adjectives. These words contribute to the syntax rather than the meaning of a sentence. However, they are important in clarifying what is going on.

The study indicated that people in stress tended to talk less. However, such individuals more often used adverbs like “really” or “incredibly.” These words, as the lead author cited, might act as “emotional intensifiers,” signifying a higher state of arousal. People living under stress were also less likely to use third person plural pronouns like “they” or “their.” According to Mehl, this behavior might be attributed to a sense threat in vulnerable individuals, which made them focus less on others and the outside world.

Furthermore, Mehl emphasized on the need for more research to verify these results, and to understand the influence of stress on language or vice versa. However, he was upbeat that the approach could be helpful in identifying people vulnerable to stress-related disease. He also urged doctors to see beyond self-reported symptoms by considering patient’s language as a possible marker of stress. Steve Cole, a genomicist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a co-author on the paper, suggested that language assessment of a patient could help determine the effectiveness of stress-reducing interventions.

Ways to manage stress

Stress is an obvious outcome of unpleasant experiences in day-to-day life. The human body is programmed to mitigate the stress on its own. However, persistent stress may take a toll on one’s health if neglected for long. It not just affects physical and mental health, but may also lead to a rift in relationships. Physical signs of stress may include headaches, elevated blood pressure, upset stomach, chest pain and sleeping difficulties. Stress can also make people use alcohol and drug that may lead to addiction.

It is almost impossible to avoid stress. But it can be managed to mitigate the risk of possible harmful effects. The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends some effective strategies to reduce stress:

Identifying cause of stress: People experiencing regular stress can monitor their state of mind throughout the day. It can help them identify the triggers of stress. Once identified, they can address them by effective ways.

Maintaining harmony in relationships: It is important to have good friends and a caring family to ward off stress. While relationships can be taxing at times, it is important to strike a balance between personal and professional lives. Mutual understanding can go a long way in maintaining healthy relationships.

Anger can aggravate stress: Anger and stress make a vicious cycle. Anger management techniques such as walking or other exercises as well as recreational activities can help manage anger.

Peace of mind: A peaceful mind has no place for stress. Enjoying a healthy sleep of seven to eight hours, cutting back on caffeine and avoiding distractions like TV and internet and socializing are effective ways to attain peace of mind.

Seeking medical assistance

It is important to take control of things before they go awry. Expert medical assistance is inevitable despite all measures. If you are suffering from acute stress or any other mental problem, get in touch with the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline that offers credible information about the best mental health treatment centers in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 mental rehab helpline 855-653-8178 for prompt assistance.

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