Is Stress Wrecking Your Life?
Stress has become an epidemic in peoples’ lives. They can’t cope. They’re turning to all kinds of helpful people and products in a desperate effort to get relief from what seems like a constant barrage of turmoil.
If stress has sent your cortisol levels soaring and you can’t seem to get a grip on what you can do to control things and turn chaos into calm, then you need to analyze how bad the problem is so you can pick and choose methods and strategies that will alleviate this pressure.
Do You Feel Like You Just Want To Get Away?
One way you can determine whether or not stress has catapulted out of control is to think about the times when you feel significantly stressed. Sometimes, people will start out feeling stressed only in certain situations.
This might be just while you’re stuck in traffic, or only when you’re at work. Maybe even specifically when one person comes around, like an in-law or intrusive neighbor. But then you start to notice that the stress never really goes away.
It’s haunting you all of the time — day and night, at work, at home, when you’re around anyone and everyone — and even when you’re all by yourself. It’s no longer situational — it’s chronic, and that’s when stress is at its most damaging.
You start to realize that there’s no safe place for you to go to anymore. It used to be, a hard day at work was manageable — as long as you could escape at 5 o’clock and go to the comfort of your own home.
But if you wake up and go to bed filled with stress, and experience it throughout your entire work day, it means you’re under constant attack, and that’s not healthy for you emotionally or physically.
Your outlook may change to where you just want to escape it all — everyone and everything that’s causing you trouble. Just pack up your car and disappear — or at least get out of town where you’re not subjected to this chaos and commotion 24/7.
Everyone deserves to have space where they feel relaxed, protected and at ease. If you don’t have that in your life right now, running away isn’t the answer — you simply need to carve out some time and an area where you’re able to release the pressure of the day and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet or fun and entertainment.
You may need to get organized for that to happen, or change something big about your life, such as who’s in it or where you work. You’re not stuck in the situation — it’s just that you’ve been avoiding making those tough decisions.
Are You Taking It Out On Others?
When you’re dealing with a chronic stress situation that’s wreaking havoc on your life, you start to change. Your entire demeanor — the tone of your voice, the way you walk, the expression on your face — is all altered in a way that shows the world you’re under duress.
Your actions change as well. You begin treating people differently — even if they’re not the ones responsible for the upheaval in your life. You may not be aware that you’re doing it.
Or maybe you’re aware, but you feel helpless about changing your ways — especially when burdened with so much stress lately. You need to start thinking about how you’ve been treating others.
Start with your kids — have you noticed that you’re short with them lately? If they don’t do something on the first request, you lash out maybe more than you should? They won’t tell you, because it’s intimidating, and you don’t want to ruin your relationship with them.
How about your spouse? Does everything they do and say get on your nerves lately? Do you find yourself avoiding time with them or not reacting whenever they try to interact with you?
Maybe you’re feeling like every second you have to be at work is a nightmare — you can’t stand your coworkers, your boss or even your customers and clients. This is a sign that you’re not handling your stress load very well.
Sometimes, even well meaning friends and family can grate on your last nerve and you realize you’re just extremely grumpy with everyone and you’ve begun avoiding any kind of socialization.
You may shut yourself off from the world, or worse — lash out at others with yelling and a very visible, irritated demeanor. And maybe they even did something to deserve your wrath, who knows?
But the fact is, you not being able to handle life around others is a detriment to you — no one else. It’s you who will suffer and you don’t want to go about your day feeling like this.
So the first thing you need to do is analyze your true nature of interaction with others. Then, learn how you can diffuse your anger or irritation before you react to whatever has annoyed you.
It may be something as simple as taking a deep breath before you speak, or you may have to dig down and do some introspective work on yourself and why you’re not handling stress very well.
Are You So Confused You Can’t See A Way Out?
Confusion is one of the many symptoms of stress overload. You may get brain fog, or simply feel so overwhelmed that you can’t cope and you can’t focus on how to get better — it’s all too much.
But you have to be proactive about this. You have to simmer down and get unfrazzled so that you can learn to exist in life without a negative reaction to everything and everyone.
The first thing you need to do is take inventory of what’s going on that has you feeling so undone. Is it relationships? Finances? Physical issues? It can be a combination of many things, but you need to stop, spend a few minutes and write it all down.
What’s bothering you? Get it spelled out because you’ll need that list later when you’re addressing each issue individually. Next, rate the stress of those issues on a scale of 1–10, with 10 being the most stressful.
Something might annoy you, like the kids not picking up their toys at the end of the day, but it’s a minor irritant and not as stressful as a coworker who dumps their entire workload on you every day while they surf the ‘net.
Once you get everything rated, start from the minor irritations and work your way up. Smaller things will be easier for you to handle, and as each one lifts with a solutions, you’ll feel stronger in handling the major issues.
For example, it may be as simple as promising the kids that if they pick up their toys every night, they each get to choose one family meal per week — or maybe you give them each an allowance for doing it.
When the minor stuff is handled, it will be time to turn to the major stress. You want to formulate a plan on how to handle this — how you’re going to approach any other parties involved, compromises you’re willing to accept, and so on.
You also want to have a back up plan. Think about if things don’t go your way when you try to solve the problem. What then? You want to have a reaction ready so that you don’t fly off the handle and feel overwhelmed again.
You also want to have some scenarios in place so that you can find a backup solution. For example, you could approach your coworker to discuss the issue, or simply refuse to take on their additional work. Or, you may have to take the matter up with your supervisor, but being ready calms your nerves.
Can You See Physical Symptoms?
Whenever stress takes a toll over the course of weeks, months or years, your emotional state seeps into your physical health, and you begin to suffer the consequences of not handling stress in a better way.
You might suffer from pain. Pain is a direct result of feeling too much stress, so you might suddenly notice you’re getting more headaches. Maybe they even feel so strong, they resemble migraines.
You can suffer from other aches and pains, too. For example, most people who have stress at work end up experiencing pain in their neck or back from time to time. The stress is a result of tension in your muscles.
The tension is how your body braces for the overwhelming feelings you have whenever stressful situations occur. You can’t relax, so those tense muscles eventually hurt, and that pain creates even more stress.
Hair loss is another common physical side effect from stress that both men and women endure. You may notice it a little at first, and suddenly your entire hair line has changed due to the extreme amount of stress that you’re under.
Insomnia, or a lack of ability to get and stay asleep, is yet another physical toll stress takes on your body. Sleep is crucial to helping you manage stress, and you may find it hard to sleep when stressed — but when you don’t get sleep, it stresses you out even more — it’s a horrible cycle.
Digestive issues often show up as physical symptoms from stress overload. This can range from constipation to irritable bowel syndrome. You might have an upset stomach, acid reflux or any sort of digestive problem when your stress levels are high.
You have to watch out for your physical well-being. If you start suffering health issues, that’s going to compound with the stress you already have on your plate, making things worse.
So whenever you begin noticing physical ailments during particularly stressful times, make sure you implement a good health regiment. Start with sleep. You want to improve your sleep hygiene so that you’re easily able to fall asleep each night.
Next, work on nutrition. Eat foods that sustain your energy levels and don’t cause a crash in energy, like processed, sugary foods do. Add exercise to the mix once you master nutrition.
Movement will help boost endorphins. And then, start pampering yourself with emotional stress relief options that help you relax and take some of the load off of you each and every day.
Has Stress Become Your Norm?
It’s unfortunate when you accept the way life is — even if your stress levels are out of control. But that’s what many people do. They think this is just how life is, and maybe someday it’ll turn around for them.
Life doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to accept that overbearing stress is a normal way to live. You simply have to make a firm decision to change the way things are for you.
Refuse to accept the status quo — even if others are okay with going through the motions. You don’t have to. You get to choose how pleasant life will be for you, and even if you can’t remember a time when life wasn’t stressful, your new life can begin today.
Once upon a time, you had dreams of how life would be. You knew you wanted relationships to be a certain way. You had an idea of what kind of career you wanted. But maybe things didn’t turn out that way.
Now is the time to start planning for a renovation of your life — one with far less stress. One where you’re surrounded by people you get along with and people you love and who love you.
This new life you create begins with new routines that make you feel satisfied each day — whether it’s how you wake up and start your day or how you end it each night. You might add exercise to the mix, or meal planning.
You’ll want to set aside time each day to nurture yourself. Because nobody else will take care of your needs the way you will. Buy yourself some aromatherapy products or something to improve sleep as an investment in your future happiness.
Shake things up with a new schedule. If you’ve been used to going to bed at 11 PM and waking up at 5, switch it to an earlier bedtime so you get one extra hour of sleep each night.
If certain things cause you daily stress, such as traffic jams, look for another route that’s less congested — and invest in an audiobook to listen to as you drive instead of depressing news talk radio to start your day.