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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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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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