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10 Signs You’re Under Too Much Stress

10 Signs You’re Under Too Much Stress

If you’ve ever been through a time in your life in which you were constantly stressed out, you probably felt less and less like “yourself” each day, and more like a worn out shell of a human. While you may have thought “This stress is killing me,” you most likely persevered through the tough times without really doing anything to alleviate your pains. However, doing so only prolongs and exacerbates the issue at hand, and causes long-lasting detrimental effects to your body if left unchecked. Know the signs of stress before it overtakes you completely.

1. You’re exhausted

If you have trouble getting out of bed everyday, despite getting a full night’s rest, you’re probably clinically exhausted. Jane Pernotto Ehrman, M. Ed., a behavioral health specialist at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, reports, “Stress is an energy-drainer, because it secretly sends all of your body systems into overdrive.” Since your body feels like it’s working overtime, even getting a good night’s sleep is not enough to recharge it for the following day. Take action to reduce the stress in your life. Your body will thank you.

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2. You can’t sleep

Ironically, despite being incredibly exhausted at all times, when you’re stressed out it becomes increasingly more difficult to actually fall sleep. Stress-related insomnia stems from not being able to stop thinking about all your obligations in life, combined with the fact that your body is still in “overdrive mode” regardless of what time it is. And, of course, since you can’t sleep, you’ll be even more exhausted the following day, which will only serve to increase your stress load.

3. You’re always sick

Obviously, if you’re having trouble sleeping, sickness will follow shortly after insomnia has taken hold. Since your body has been working overtime during this stressful period, it hasn’t had any time to actually recover from any minor illness or disease that has crept in, and you’ll have a hard time fighting off even the smallest cold. Studies have shown your immune system becomes suppressed by about 30% when you’re stressed out. Taking a “mental health day” is often a euphemism for “skipping work,” but sometimes it needs to be done in order to maintain a healthy mind and body.

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4. You’re absent-minded

When you’re stressed out, it’s most likely because you have too much on your plate at once. With major work and life responsibilities looming over your head, it’s tough to keep track of all the little things. If you find yourself at a point in which you can’t remember where you put your keys or you’re forgetting appointments and meetings regularly, you’re most likely stressed almost to your breaking point. Don’t let it go farther without seeking help.

5. You have chronic head and body aches

As I said before, your body puts itself into hyper mode when you’re stressed out. This fatigue not only affects your focus and attention, but also puts a physical strain on your body. Your body has a natural “fight or flight” mechanism which stemmed from the early days of humanity in which we had to actually dodge predators on a normal basis. Nowadays, though we don’t have to worry about lions and bears coming out of nowhere to attack us, our body reacts the same way to recurring stress accrued from work and other parts of life. Why do you think getting a shoulder rub feels so great after a long day? Because your body’s been tense for the past eight hours dealing with all the garbage you’ve had to deal with.

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6. You’ve become indifferent sexually

When you’re stressed out and have a ton of issues on your mind, your sex drive is likely to decrease. You might be frustrated about it and wish you could do something about it, but when the opportunity arises, you’ll find yourself not being able to focus, or not being in the mood at all. Try to relieve stress by exercising often.

7. You’ve become overly emotional

Lucie Hemmen, Ph.D, a psychologist in Santa Cruz, CA explains, “When you’re super-stressed, the brain stem — the primitive part of your brain — takes over, and the part that anticipates outcomes goes dark.” This explains why being stressed will cause you to literally cry over spilled milk, or fly into a rage if someone honks their horn at you. Remember when you were a kid and would stay up way too late, and catch a case of the giggles? Same concept. Your body was so stressed out from exhaustion that even the slightest thing set you off, albeit in a silly way. When you’re an adult, and your stress causes you to flip someone off for bumping into you on the subway, it’s not so funny.

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8. You have digestive issues

I can’t stress enough how being under too much pressure can lead to physical discomfort. That feeling of nausea you get when you pull into your office’s parking lot is a direct response to the stress you’re already feeling about the day ahead of you. But it’s not as simple as a quick rumble in your stomach. It could cause problems with your digestive system that could lead to vomiting or other issues.

9. You feel light-headed and dizzy

Everyone knows to take deep breaths and try to relax when they’re feeling stressed, right? This acts as a reminder to breathe when you feel yourself starting to panic. When instinct kicks in, you actually deprive yourself of oxygen with each short breath you take, leading to dizziness and “the shakes,” which could lead to a loss of consciousness. Don’t “hold it in” when stress hits you hard. Do your best to weather the storm before you cause even more damage to your body and mind.

10. You resort to coping mechanisms

After a hard day’s work, you might want to just go home and grab a bottle of beer from the fridge while you catch up on some TV. While there’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two after you’ve come home and relaxed for a while, there’s definitely a problem with drinking in order to relax. Chances are you’ll wake up the next morning with an even higher level of stress than you went to bed with. If you find you’re relying on drugs or alcohol more and more in order to alleviate stress, you should seek help immediately.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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