Although all of us have some level of stress in our life, it can easily tip the scales and become too much without us even realizing it. Or, you may realize that it’s there but you don’t want to admit that it is to the point where it is hurting you. Either way, it’s bad news for you if you don’t do something to get rid of it.
How do you know if your stress levels are too high and possibly affecting your quality of life and your health? Check for the following 12 signs of stress and what you can do about it:
#1 You’re Tired all the Time
It takes a lot of energy to deal with crisis after crisis, so you’ll probably see it in your energy levels. If you have a hard time getting off the couch or can barely make it through your days without craving a nap or wanting to do nothing but go to work and go home, it’s likely that you have too much stress in your life.
#2 You Socially Isolate Yourself
It’s not uncommon in periods of stress to shut everyone else out and limit your time with people you used to really enjoy hanging around. You might find that you no longer go to social events or, if you do find enough energy to show up, you are the last to arrive and the first to leave barely conversing with anyone there.
#3 You Don’t Look Forward to Anything
Does every day seem like the last and you know it is going to be filled with BS and not anything fun? In other words, do you wake up every morning with a snarl about the day ahead, anticipating how people are going to piss you off? If you do, your stress levels may be higher than you think.
#4 You have a Negative Attitude – all the Time.
Everyone goes through periods where it is hard to find the good in life, but if this is an everyday occurrence for you, then you may want to assess the stress that you are under as it may be affecting your good nature.
#5 You No Longer Enjoy Your Once Favorite Activities
When the activities that used to make you smile make you want to call in sick and stay home, this could be a sign that the stress that you are under is causing you harm.
#6 You Cry More Easily
Some people are emotional by nature, but if this isn’t normally you yet you are dropping tears once a week or more, your stress levels may be affecting you more than you realize. (Unless it is simply “that time of the month,” then tears may be more hormonal than stress related.)
#7 You Yell More
Stress has a way of limiting your patience, making you yell at times when you would usually talk things out or be able to be more objective. So, if you’re hearing, “Mom! Why are you yelling at me all of the time?” from your little ones, it is possible that you are overstressed and pushed to your limits.
#8 Your Blood Pressure and Heart Rate are Elevated
If you regularly monitor your blood pressure and pulse and one or both seem to be on a steady incline, stress may be the culprit. Even if you don’t have a cuff that tells you your numbers, you likely feel it via a pounding heart or palpitations.
#9 You have a Lot of Headaches
When you’re under a massive amount of stress, it isn’t uncommon to have headaches or migraines that appear more frequently, last longer and come on stronger. Part of the reason may be because you carry the stress in your neck and shoulders, making your head ache more often than normal.
#10 Your Body Aches
In addition to more frequent headaches, tension in all of your other muscles can make your body ache as well. It may even feel as if you’ve been in a car accident or like you have the flu.
#11 You have Gastrointestinal Issues
Do you have regular bouts of diarrhea or is it common to have an upset stomach? How often do you deal with stomach pains or feel nauseous? If it is a lot, stress may be to blame.
#12 You Crave or Imbibe Excessive Amounts of Alcohol or Drugs
If you find that you are having a hard time staying away from alcohol and/or drugs or that you are consuming them in more quantities than you have in the past, you need to check your stress levels as they may be creating these stress relieving cravings.
So, how did you do? If you have a lot of the issues that have been presented, then it is time to get your stress in line before it affects you more negatively than it already has. If you don’t, you could be setting yourself up for a heart attack, stroke, or even premature death. Luckily, there are some quick and easy options that will help you with this.
The first thing you need to do is breathe. No, I’m not just talking about getting the air in and out of your airways. I’m talking about focused breathing so that you take oxygen deep into your lungs and soothe your body and mind at the same time.
To do it, find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes and breathe in to a count of four, hold it for a count of four, then exhale to a count of four. If it helps, put your right hand on your tummy and feel it rise and fall with each breathe. Read our yoga breathing article too.
Do this for 10 breaths once or twice a day and you should start to feel better almost instantly. You’ll notice a sense of calm about you and your mind will be clearer.
Plan a Vacation
Maybe a little down time will help you feel happier and less stressed and what better way to get it than to take a vacation? Besides, it is nice to have something fun to look forward to, helping you get out of bed with excitement and anticipation instead of begrudging each and every day.
Take a week away to some place tropical and leave your troubles at home. If that isn’t possible, at least take a 3-day weekend at a fairly local (and inexpensive) venue. A change of scenery may be all you need to give your mind a much needed break.
Make Lifestyle Changes
If you live a lifestyle that tends to cause you an excessive amount of stress, then maybe you need to consider whether it is worth it. This requires taking inventory of the things you do and seeing which areas are bringing you the most angst.
Too much drama with your spouse or partner? Breaking off the relationship might be better than finding yourself in a hospital or morgue. Too much stress at work? Finding a job that pays less will be okay if you’re spending less on medical bills due to your high blood pressure and frequent chest pains.
Take Care of Yourself Physically
When you’re in shape physically, you are more in shape mentally. You have a higher tolerance for life’s stressors and you don’t feel as lethargic and tired when things aren’t going your way.
Eat healthy foods, limit your caffeine intake, and drink lots of water. Set aside the cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs and choose to get a natural high off of the endorphins that exercise releases instead.
See Your Doctor
If you try all of these things and you still feel as if stress has a tight hold on you, maybe it is time to see your doctor. You may need an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication, at least until you get past the rough part and can start to mellow out a bit.
You can also choose to see a therapist or counselor for help in reducing your stress. Sometimes just talking to someone who is an outsider is enough to help you calm your fears and worries. At the very least, they will tell you if your feelings are validated or if you’re putting too much emphasis on things that likely won’t happen or things that don’t matter in the larger scheme of life.
Take the time to de-stress your body before it forces you to de-stress by knocking you on your can. Remember that you are a Queen! Now it is time to treat yourself like one.