It’s no secret that life and work can be stressful and that stress is something we all experience from time to time. But what is it? Well to put it in simple terms, stress isn’t the bad guy! Stress is actually something that is a natural response to our environment and is meant to protect us. In fact, in the right situations stress can help us to deal with high demand, perform better for longer and help keep us alert, energized and focused. However when we experience this too often, we become drained, exhausted and deflated and that is because we experience ‘stress overload.’ Stress Overload means means we have too many things in our day which are causing the natural stress response. This can have a negative impact on our physical, emotional and mental health, being the root cause of a multitude of aches, complaints and illnesses. So how do you know if you are experiencing stress overload? Take a look at these five common symptoms and what you can do to help.
1) Flying off the handle
This is a very common reaction to stress. Biting heads off around the office, snapping at the smallest of things and overreacting with anger. This is a sign that it has all got too much and you are experiencing serious stress overload.
Solution: Take a deep breath and act rather than react. When you feel those bubbles boiling in your blood, recognise this as a sign you are about to explode and take three deep breaths. This simple exercise allows the stress response to calm and the body to go back to a more rested state.
2) Feeling anxious
Prolonged periods of stress can lead to anxiety and the two often come hand in hand. Anxiety symptoms can consist of panic attacks, nausea, muscle tension and an increase in heart rate. All of these will only cause stress levels to rise and perpetuate the situation.
Solution: Exercise. Being cooped up in an office or at home all day can feel extremely claustrophobic when you are experiencing anxiety. You can feel trapped and unable to get away from you worries and concerns. Try taking some time to get some fresh air. Take a 10-15 minute walk focusing on your breathing and notice your anxiety decrease and you stress levels calm.
3) Change in diet
Often when we are stuck in stressful situations, we forget to look after and properly nourish ourselves and this often includes ignoring the importance of eating well. We can feel as though we don’t have time to take a lengthy lunch break and instead rush out to buy something quick and easy we can scoff down on the way back. As well as being unhealthy, this can make us feel lethargic, groggy and even nauseous which will in turn make our stress even harder to cope with.
Solution: Be prepared and take time. What we nourish ourselves with is so important in terms of our well-being, physically and emotionally. Ensure you make time the night before to pack something good for you, then when lunch time rolls around, however busy you are, stop! Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, just step away from your desk or your work space or whatever you are doing, find a quiet place preferably outdoors to enjoy your food. Be mindful as stress can cause you to gain or lose an unhealthy amount of weight.
4) Sleep interruptions
Living a busy and stressful day can make it impossible to unwind and relax, as we are still buzzing from the adrenaline. This is when sleep becomes more difficult and often hours are lost worrying and stressing over what didn’t get done today and what needs to get done tomorrow.
Solution: Routine. There is a lot to be said for a good routine, particularly of an evening to help you unwind and prepare for a good sleep which is essential when managing stress. (and life!) Try not to eat too late and at least one hour before bedtime turn off all technology! This gives your brain time to wind down and ensure it doesn’t become over stimulated. Find a relaxing meditation or hypnosis CD and play this quietly to help you drift off. Find an evening routine that works for you.
5) Physical problems
Stress manifests itself physically. This can be in terms of muscular pain, skin problems, weight problems, heart issues, the list goes on. If you are an over stressed individual, it is very likely you will be experiencing some physical symptoms that you may not even know are stress related.
Solution: Self-care. Looking after yourself is so important, particularly if you are experiencing stress overload. If we are, we tend to neglect ourselves allowing all our symptoms to become worse as we simply do not have the time to slow down and listen to what is really happening to our bodies. So take some time to notice any physical symptoms you are experiencing and allocate a weekly slot to address them. Below are some simple ideas:
So if you are noticing that your a snapping at people more than you normally would, experiencing feelings of anxiety, not sleeping well, noticing a dip in your diet or a change in weight, or experiencing physical pain it is likely you need to stop, breathe and address your stress overload! Of course these are not the only signs of stress overload and the way we manage stress can differ from person to person. If you would like some guidance why not book your initial consultation today and get started.