Stress may seem an unavoidable consequence of living in the 2020s. After all, these are the years that seemed like sci-fi territory when we were growing up in the dying gasps of the 20th century. Now, life moves at a pace that’s even faster than we could have imagined. Through the little glass and plastic rectangle in our pockets we are constantly connected with the whole world. Meaning that when we want to disconnect and focus our attention on ourselves for a while, it’s harder than ever to shrug off our connectivity to the world around us. As the cost of living skyrockets, even as our employers keep our wages low to inflate their profit margins and appease their shareholders, we may find that money weighs heavier and heavier on our minds, exacerbating our stress. What’s more, with less and less free time to call our own, many of us find that we simply don’t have time to build an infrastructure to relieve our stress.
Indeed, many of us may think that our stress is a good thing. Which, in small doses, it can be. A little stress can wake us up, sharpen our instincts and senses, and prevent us from lapsing into complacency and apathy. In some cases, it can bring out the best in us and allow us to rise spectacularly to the occasion when challenged at work or in the home. But over time, stress can become chronic… and that can become ruinous to your physical health, making you vulnerable to a broad spectrum of chronic diseases. What’s more, when stress impinges on your day-to-day life, it can have a range of unpleasant consequences on your personal and professional life.
Here are some troubling signs that your stress has gotten out of control…
You find yourself losing your temper a lot
Stress makes us quick to anger. And unless we know the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to manage that anger and determine its causes, we can find ourselves lashing out in ways that prove damaging at home and at work. We can become disproportionately angered at our kids when they misbehave, showing them a side to their beloved parent that we’d rather they didn’t see. We can become short tempered with our partners and spouses, potentially putting a strain on relationships that’s supposed to relieve our stress.
Stress, anger and depression are inevitable bedfellows, and when we let anger dictate our actions, it can lead us to situations that alienate us from our support work. It’s up to you to take steps to manage your anger from mindfulness meditation to supplements- click here for an example, to your diet. You may be surprised at how much control you have over your stress and your anger.
Everything seems like too much
Stress has a habit of making us feel overwhelmed. It can impair or cognitive faculties and make it difficult to focus our attention and proactively manage our workload (in the workplace and the home). Stress has a way of distorting and exaggerating our perception and making even the most quotidian tasks seem insurmountable. And since stress is often the forebear of depression, it can lead to cycles of paralysis and inaction that stunt your professional development and your feelings of satisfaction in the home.
When you take active steps to relieve stress, you may be surprised at just how manageable even the heaviest workload may suddenly seem.
It takes longer to recover from injuries
We all know that regular exercise is one of the best ways to relieve and manage stress. But stress can make our bodies and our muscles tense and fragile, making us more prone to strains and sprains. And when we injure ourselves at the gym, we can find ourselves unable to access this avenue of stress relief while we recover. What’s more, stress can delay the healing process, thus creating a cycle of frustration and self-recrimination. If you take active steps to relieve your stress, it can help you recover from injuries and illnesses faster, enabling you to get back to a more active and healthy life where you’re more empowered to take control of your own stress.
You’re eating a lot of junk food
Guilty! What do we do after escaping from a stressful situation? In many cases, we comfort eat. When we indulge in fatty, sugary and salty processed foods, we force a chemical response in the brain that stimulates our pleasure and reward centers. Thus, while we’re eating (and immediately after we eat), we feel that our stress and irritability have abated and that we have a newfound sense of calm and satisfaction.
Unfortunately, this sensation is often short lived. And when it subsides, we will often feel bloated, depressed and filled with self-loathing. Not to mention crashing in terms of both mood and energy levels when the effect of all that sugar and sodium wears off.
Ironically, one of the best ways to manage stress is through a healthy diet packed with fresh veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants of these foods are proven mood boosters and stress busters.
Your relationship with your significant other is encountering real difficulty
Finally, too much stress can prove ruinous to your marriage and your relationship. It can make you irritable, short tempered, uncommunicative and emotionally volatile. What’s more, it is also a major contributory factor to loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. The loss of physical and emotional intimacy can drive a wedge between you and you significant other, and alienate you from a vital component in your support network.
If you take active steps to manage your stress, you’ll have the tolls to correct potentially damaging behaviors and actively improve your relationship.
There are all kinds of ways in which you can take control of your stress to mindfulness meditation and yoga to hitting the weights or punching the heck out of a bag. From talk therapy to dietary supplements. Don’t let stress get out of control. It can ruin your health and complicate your life!