Numbers don’t lie. People are STRESSED!
In fact, a 2017 study found that an average of 58% of Americans between ages 18-72+ report having elevated levels of stress in their daily lives. The most common sources of stress reported are…
1. Uncertainty for the future
5. Violence / Crime
I could spend time talking about each of these individually, but I won’t. While each presents their own challenges, there are some common features across the board that could potentially be adding stress to your life! So, in order to be as beneficial as I can to your life, let’s focus on the small things you can change right now that will have the most positive effect!
What if you’re stressed and don’t realize it!?
You’d be surprised how common that is! We tend to be highly resilient and our ability to adapt to different situations makes it difficult sometimes to differentiate between actual mental/physical stress and normal every-day challenges. This actually goes a little further, and it’s where I want you to focus your self-evaluation…
The first (and most important) thing you should do if you feel over-stressed is figuring out whether you are genuinely under stress, or whether there are toxic factors that you experience every day. There are things you can do (which I’ll explain shortly) to lessen your stress load every day, but toxicity isn’t something that you can easily change. If there are toxic people, places, thoughts, etc in your life… you’re honestly better off separating totally than trying to fix them.
These are the most common signs that you’re stressed:
1. Unexplained aches/pains
2. Loss of appetite
3. Constantly longing for a break
4. Feeling unaccomplished
There are certainly more signs of stress, but these tend to be the most prominent across the board. What’s more, these are some of the easiest symptoms of stress to self-treat so you can start feeling more refreshed and positive!
Here’s what you can do to combat them!
Unexplained Aches and Pains
Unexplained pain can be a signal from the body to alert you to the fact that you’re over-taxing yourself. Because pain can also be due to other factors, it’s best to approach this from a preventative stance…
Stretching every day has a host of benefits. Of course, having a regular stretch regimen will help to improve your posture, enable flexibility, increase stamina, decrease risk of injury, promote better blood circulation, reduce cholesterol, etc… but did you know that stretching has been proven to vastly improve your energy stores and it helps you to harbor an optimistic outlook! And yes, it helps to reduce soreness too!
5-10 minutes of stretching twice a day can have massively positive effects in your life, and it will definitely lower your perceived stress.
Loss of Appetite
Stress changes your priorities. When you feel overwhelmed with stressors, your body will put things like hunger lower on the importance scale. Do you consistently skip lunch because you just don’t feel hungry? It could very well be due to stress! What’s worse is the fact that “hanger” is a real thing! In this case, you’re getting a double dose of stress… the first makes you not want to eat… the second because you didn’t eat!
This sounds like a case for technology! You have a smartphone, right? Chances are your smartphone has the ability to set reminders and sound alarms to alert you. Set reminders throughout the day to let you know when to eat and when to drink water. Start in the morning with a glass of water and breakfast, then add in a snack, lunch, another snack, and dinner… and of course, more water with each of those meals! I find it best to space everything out every 2-3 hours!
Constantly Longing for a Break
Do you get super excited for the weekend? Everyone does, right? The difference is in how “liberated” you feel when it comes. If you constantly have this urge to escape from your responsibilities and just unwind, that’s a strong indicator that you’re experiencing burnout from stress!
You’re going to need some help on this one. You’re going to have to get everyone on-board to make the everyday tasks more “fun”. This can be as simple as making sure that music you enjoy is constantly playing, but it can also be as involved in employing your friends/family to join in and just make things more enjoyable.
Most importantly, when you actually have time away from the things that stress you out… totally unplug from them! Don’t respond to work emails or take phone calls. Surround yourself only with things that bring you happiness. Everything else will still be there when it’s time to give them attention. I promise!
If you find yourself constantly trudging forward, completing task after task, but you feel like you can’t remember the last time you did something worth being proud of… that’s not a good sign! This can be further exacerbated if the people around you don’t offer words of encouragement or recognize the things you do. Ugh! I hate that!
There is a simple solution and a more complex one. The complex one involves you having a serious talk with the people around you… and let them know what things you’d prefer to be recognized for and how you’d like to receive that recognition. As you can imagine, this can potentially blow up in your face.
The simple solution is all about you! Keep a journal where you log your accomplishments daily. No matter how big or how small, when you do successfully complete a task… write it down! Then make it a habit to review this list throughout the day. It will keep you positive, motivated, and it’ll give you some perspective on everything you’re doing well!
Don’t forget supportive resources!
You can greatly increase the positivity of your results if you’re able to get your friends, family, colleagues, etc. on the same page. Having a circle of support is easily one of the most effective ways to succeed at anything! Also, do a check at your job to see if they offer counseling, online information, or referrals to mental health professionals. You may shudder at the idea of talking to some stranger about your problems, but the simple act of making that choice can also boost your feeling of accomplishment! If it’s available, I highly recommend it!
Here’s to a strong body, mind, and spirit!