You’re stressed. It’s nothing new; everyone is stressed these days. However, how do you know when your stress has reached an unhealthy level? When do you need to step back and make a change for the good of your own mental and physical health? Here are ten warning signs that your stress may be causing you harm:
1. You are snapping at people. You are usually a patient person, but recently you’ve found yourself responding harshly when people annoy you. Your family and your co-workers have mentioned that you seem to be a little ‘on edge’.
2. Your sleep patterns are disrupted. You are finding it difficult to get a restful night of sleep. On the other hand, you may also be finding that you are sleeping more than you normally do.
3. You find yourself withdrawing from others. Socializing and talking to other people feels like a chore. These days, you would prefer to be alone.
4. Things that used to excite you now feel overwhelming and unmanageable. You have noticed that you are a lot more pessimistic than you usually are.
5. You are eating too much or too little, or you are binging on unhealthy food. You forget to eat, or your decision to eat feels like an emotional one.
6. You find it difficult to concentrate, and you have been forgetting things. You feel like you can’t trust your own judgement.
7. You are constantly worrying. Your mind is an endless loop of the various stressors in your life. You are finding it difficult to turn it off, even for a moment.
8. You have been getting frequent headaches, stomachaches, or other aches and pains. Stress often manifests itself in body pain.
9. You have been neglecting your responsibilities. You have been putting off important tasks, and you are not performing to your normal level. Your co-workers are wondering what has gotten into you!
10. You are turning to substances, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to help you relax. Many people have a drink now and then, but if you need it to get you through the day, it is a problem.
With all of our competing demands, many of us push ourselves too hard from time to time. However, we need to realize that this is not a sustainable way to live. We tend to take our mental health for granted, and that is a mistake. It is important that you take care of yourself. If you are exhibiting signs of stress, then slow down, and try to do what you can to lighten your load and relax.
(Written by Karen Bivand)