We all experience periods of stress in our lives. Maybe you’ve had to deal with a family crisis or a heavy workload at your job. This type of stress comes, you deal with it as best you can, and then the anxiety passes. That’s normal.
But how do you know when you’ve hit your maximum stress tolerance level? Dangerous, damaging stress is the kind that lasts for days or even weeks or months without letting up. This type of stress can hamper your job performance, hurt relationships, and takes a serious toll on your body and mind.
Check for these red flags that you might be over stressed:
Operating on a hair trigger. People under heavy stress tend to become agitated more easily than others. We all get annoyed when there’s a long line at the bank or if we spend lunch hour stuck in traffic. But when our day is ruined by circumstances beyond our control, it means we’re out of control. If you find yourself lashing out over little things, or looking to pick fights, it’s a sign that you may need to talk to someone about anxiety and how to unburden yourself.
Binging, starving, or using food as a method of control. When we’re stressed and emotional, our brains release certain hormones which affect our appetites. For humans, food isn’t always about getting nutrition. Some people respond to stress by eating more, while others can’t even think of food when they’re under the gun. A sudden change in when you eat, how much you eat and what types of food you eat is a good indication that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Are you using food as an escape or means of controlling things you can’t control?
Physical pain. Your body can’t talk, but it has its own way of letting you know when something’s amiss. Your muscles tighten up and send pain signals to your brain. I remember the first time this happened to me, I was terrified. I thought I was dying, had cancer – a bunch of stuff went through my head. A naturopath Calgary clinic helped me out tremendously. Most of us are no stranger to the occasional headache, backache, muscle or joint ache. But if you’re experiencing severe pain (migraines, chest pain) or chronic pain (ulcers, backaches), your body may well be crying out to you that something’s got to give. When was the last time you had a physical, exercised, took care of yourself?
Can’t slow down. When your nerves are taxed, it can be difficult to unwind – even if your body desperately needs the down time. If you feel pressured by your job, your relationships or all of the above, this can escalate to a constant manic state which manifests itself in physical ways. You may find yourself unable to sleep or focus on any one task. You may fidget or have “restless leg syndrome”. Psychologically, severe stress brings racing thoughts, constant “self-talk” or mental chatter. When people find themselves in this extreme state they often turn to drugs or alcohol and the habit can quickly become addictive.
Excessive fear or worrying. Worries and fears crop up from time to time and are normal. But the stressed person takes it to a whole new level. Have you ever worried or obsessed that a mailed check won’t make it to the bank on time? Do traffic jams bring on road rage or a panic attack because you might be a few minutes late for work? Normal, daily happenings that most of us shrug off become like monsters stalking the overly stressed person. Coaching or counseling can be beneficial if you constantly feel like the world may come crashing down any second.
Loss of sex drive. Because a stressed person can only focus on what’s stressing – or what they believe is stressing them – they lose interest in pleasurable activities like sex. Some people – especially men – might want to perform, but because their bodies are wracked by stress, are physically unable.
If you’re close to reaching the breaking point, it may be time to seek support from an outside source. Therapy addresses the emotional and psychological issues that may be causing you anxiety.
Coaching is another form of personal support that leads to greater productivity, more personal control, successful work-life blending and better management of your time. It’s up to you which stress management technique will work for your situation. But whatever you do, make it a point to help yourself before it’s too late.