Physical stress is the body's normal response to events that are upsetting or that throw people mentally and emotionally out of balance, according to Helpguide.org. The source notes that physical stress is a way the body attempts to protect itself from experiencing further harm.
Because stress acts as a protective mechanism, it can sometimes be difficult for people to recognize it in themselves, says Helpguide.org. Psychologist Connie Lillas shares that the "fight or flight" and the "freeze" responses are common when people feel they need to react to a stressful event happening in their lives. Those types of reactions are so familiar to most people that they are often accepted as normal behavior, and the effect of the stress on the body is not properly addressed. Helpguide.org acknowledges that some stress can actually be helpful, such as the adrenaline that happens when a person is doing a presentation at work or studying for an important exam. The physical problem, the site maintains, occurs when the stressful experiences become too numerous and they start to have a negative effect on behavior patterns and a person's commitment to restful activities.
Web MD points out some symptoms to be aware of when assessing personal stress and whether it may be reaching unhealthy levels. Some things to look out for include headaches, low energy, clenched teeth, insomnia, chest pain and forgetfulness.