Stress is a normal part of daily life. Dr. Sinha, a professor of psychiatry and neurobiology at Yale, defines stress as “…a complex system of …hormones and chemicals that help us respond, adapt, and bring our bodies back to a stress-free baseline.” In other words, stress makes us take the necessary steps to help solve a problem or get out of a bad situation. However, too much stress is harmful and can lead to mental and physical health issues.
Stress is often caused by outside factors that we cannot control, but sometimes we make the situation worse for ourselves. If you notice any of these signs, you could be stressing yourself out.
Your workspace and/or home are messy
Do you usually have things neat and organized, but your desk is now cluttered with papers that need to be filed? Watching the stuff pile up only reminds you of just how much you have to do.
How to stop: Take some time, even if it’s only 5 minutes a day, to reorganize things they way you like them. Tackle one small task that you can get out of the way at once, then work on another project the next day. Once you break everything into smaller chunks, you’ll probably realize that there wasn’t as much as you thought.
You don’t take care of yourself
You might feel like you don’t have time to cook a healthy meal for yourself or go to the gym, but an unhealthy diet and little or no exercise will start to take a toll on your body and mind. Processed foods can not only increase your risk of a number of physical health conditions, but also lead to depression and other mental health issues.
How to stop: It might seem easier to throw a frozen dinner in the microwave, but making a healthy meal at home doesn’t have to take a long time. Prepare a few days’ worth of meals at the start of your week, and try finding some quick and easy recipes online.
You’re always distracted
Watching TV after work or scrolling through Facebook can be the perfect mindless activity to get your mind off whatever is bothering you, but avoiding the problem will not solve anything. In fact, multiple studies have found that increased social media use may cause an increase in sadness and depression. Some believe that this could be due to the fact that we are engaging with people digitally, and not in person.
How to stop: How many times a day do you check the social apps on your phone? Instead of checking them throughout the day, allot a set amount of time per day to browse social media. If you catch yourself watching television instead of handling important tasks, make a list of your must-watch shows, or allow yourself a specific amount of time per day or week for entertainment.
You avoid people
Introverts usually feel more refreshed and rejuvenated after spending some time alone, but even for the most introverted person, too much isolation can be a red flag that something is wrong.
How to stop: Force yourself to socialize. Watch a movie with your roommate or significant other, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or go to lunch with a co-worker. You don’t have to talk about what’s bothering you; just interacting with someone for a short time can vastly improve your mood and take your mind off things for a while.
You start forgetting things
We all have moments when we can’t remember what we did with the remote or forget that we were supposed to pick up milk after work, but if you notice that these moments are happening more frequently, you could be overstressed. Occasional short-term memory slips are normal, but prolonged forgetfulness can have long-lasting effects on your well-being.
How to stop: Start a list, and as you think of things you need to do, write them down. If the memory lapses start interfering with your everyday life, try a simple stress reliever like meditation, or take a day to pamper yourself. Relaxing during a tense time is not easy, but it’s vital that you take care of yourself. If the forgetfulness persists, visit your doctor to make sure it’s not something more serious.
You don’t feel healthy
Headaches, nausea, dizziness, and chest pain are just a few of the physical ailments you can experience from being too stressed.
How to stop: If your stress has reached the point of causing you mental and physical pain, the best thing to do is consult a physician or therapist.