Have you ever thought what stress really does to your body on a long term? Sure it’s beneficial to bring the project to an end or to help you deliver a good presentation, but if you feel under pressure on a regular basis, you are not doing your body any favors.
Why is busier better?
We tend to believe that the busier we are, somehow the more important we seem. The more projects we have going on the better, and the less free time and sleep we have, the cooler and more successful we are.
This can easily become too much. If you are suffering from the signs below, take a step back and think whether your health is really worth risking it all. Because the more the signs are true for you, the closer you are getting to your breaking point. And it’s NOT a place I recommend you to visit.
1) You cannot fall a sleep, and wake up in the middle of the night
When we stress, we tend to be wired up all the time. The stress hormones prepare our body to fight or flight, and when the body is in this mode, resting does not come easy. It’s hard to let go, and it’s hard to sleep. Maybe you have difficulties falling a sleep because you have too many thoughts roaming around in your head, and you cannot switch them off. Or maybe you are like me (how I used to be) and wake up at 3am to worry about something seemingly important happening at the office. Needless to say, both options are going to get to you on the long term, and weekends are not long enough to balance this.
2) You get sloppy and forgetful
Do you ever find yourself doing your job less then perfectly lately? Like you cannot focus as well as before, you drop things and forget things like never before. Stress and lack of sleep do not really bring the best out of us. When the body is constantly pressed with stress, it gets tired, cannot reset, and will not allow you to perform optimally. It’s like your hard drive is just full, and needs a proper reboot before it can continue.
3) You find yourself angry and in a bad mood
When I was close to my breaking point, I found myself swearing left and right, and just being in a bad mood pretty much all the time. I had no patience for anything, and I was overwhelmed by every little thing. In other words, my bucket was full and every drop extra was too much.
When we are stressed for a long time without a proper time to relax and release in between, we get tighter and tighter like a guitar string. We can manage less, we make mistakes and we feel overwhelmed. You think the next weekend will save you, or the next holiday, but if you are too far on the path to burn-out, you will need much longer than just a weekend to recover.
4) Your appetite is not the same
Maybe you feel nauseated from the stress, which makes you unable to eat. It’s not a great diet, trust me! Do you feel like you are either eating too much, as if trying to find some release or escape in food? Or maybe you cannot really eat at all due to the knot in your stomach which seems to take all of the available space. Any drastic change in your appetite can be a sign of significant stress. Your body will feel the stress before you catch up, so trust your body!
5) You feel like crying more than usual
Weepyness. A great quality, especially at the work place… When a sincere colleague asks how you are, you find yourself battling tears. If you cannot keep your emotions in place, it may be time to really slow down. Really.
So what to do if you have any of these signs?
Try to take some time off and asses the situation. Are you demanding too much from yourself? Or is someone else’s demands unrealistic? What would make you function better, and take off the stress load? Who could help you? Speak up, lesson your work load and start defending yourself – nobody else will!