In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to experience a lot of stress. Whether it’s work pressures, personal challenges, or the constant juggling of responsibilities, there are all kinds of stressors around us. The problem is, when we don’t address our stress, it continues to build until we can’t avoid the impact on our lives anymore.
Many of us have been taught to keep pushing through the difficulties and the stress. But how much is too much? When do we push so hard that we’re actually harming ourselves and the things we care about instead of being resilient and constructive? Understanding the signs of excessive stress and learning effective ways to manage it are crucial for maintaining a balanced, healthy, and happy life.
In this blog, we will explore what stress is, why managing it is vital, and identify 10 common signs that you may be experiencing too much stress. We’ll then cover some practical ways to manage it so that you can get relief and function at your best.
What is Stress and Why is Stress Management Important?
Stress is our body’s natural response to demanding situations. When our mind or body detects a challenge or a threat, it triggers a “fight, flight, or freeze” response that prepares you to deal with what’s in front of you. In moderation, stress is a normal part of life, and our body is very well designed to deal with it. However, when stress becomes chronic and overwhelming, it can negatively impact you both mentally and physically.
For example, research has shown that long-term stress can lead to mental health issues (including anxiety and depression), high blood pressure, weakened immune function, and a host of other mental and physical health issues. Not to mention that it prevents you from enjoying your life, and can also take a toll on your work and your relationships.
This is why stress management is crucial for preventing the negative effects of stress and ensuring that you have a high quality of life. Stress management involves healthy ways to reduce stress and cope effectively with daily challenges. We’ll cover some ways you can do this in this blog.
But first, how do you know if you have too much stress? In other words, how do you know that your stress level is not in the normal and healthy range?
10 Physical and Mental Signs You Have Too Much Stress:
I invite you to go through the list of common symptoms of having too much stress below. As you go through each point, evaluate whether any resonate with you.
- Trouble Sleeping: You have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up frequently during the night.
- Physical Tensions: You experience frequent headaches, muscle tension, and body aches.
- Changes in Appetite: Stress can lead to both overeating and loss of appetite, affecting eating patterns and causing weight fluctuations.This can look like weight gain, weight loss, or craving unhealthy foods (ex: high in fat/sugars).
- Increased Heart Rate: You have persistent rapid heartbeats, also known as palpitations.
- Persistent Anxiety: You feel constantly anxious or on edge, even without a specific trigger.
- Feeling Exhausted: You feel tired all of the time, even after sufficient rest.
- Irritability and Mood Swings: You experience heightened irritability, mood swings, or emotional volatility. You’re constantly triggered and find it hard to regulate your emotions.
- Reduced Concentration: You have difficulty focusing, listening, making decisions, or staying attentive.
- Withdrawal from Social Activities: You avoid social interactions or isolate yourself. You feel like hiding or staying away from others because it feels like “too much” right now.
- Forgetfulness: You find yourself having brain fog or forgetting things easily. You’re not fully in the room or present in the moment.
If you experience one or more of the symptoms above, you likely have too much stress. But the good news is, there are ways to manage your stress and get relief.
So what can you do about it?
Practical Tips to Reduce Stress and Get Relief:
Learning practical ways to manage your stress is key to reducing and preventing the negative effects of stress. Below are some ways that you can do this:
- Prioritize Self-Care: Make time to develop habits that nourish your mind and body. Having a morning and night routine that helps you reduce and prevent stress is key. This is because the way you start your day sets the tone for the rest of your day, and the way you end your day sets the tone for the next day. In this cycle, these are the most critical times of the day that can help your mind and body be well. If this is something that you struggle with, here’s a free 15 minute Rise & Thrive Morning Routine Guide to help you.
- Practice Deep Breathing: Engage in deep breathing exercises to activate your body’s relaxation response and calm your mind. This can take as little as a minute by closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. Here’s a guided box breathing exercise to help you instantly feel calmer: Guided Box Breathing: Instantly feel calmer
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Embrace mindfulness practices and meditation to cultivate present-moment awareness and reduce stress. Here’s a 7 minute calming meditation to get you started: 7 minute calming meditation
- Connect with Nature: Spending time in nature, whether through a walk in your neighborhood, at a park or a trail near you has been shown to be recharging and stress-relieving.
- Do things that you enjoy: Make time to engage in activities that you deeply enjoy. This can look like taking a few minutes to draw, ride your bike, or take an evening bath. Doing things that you genuinely enjoy can be a powerful stress reliever.
- Limit Screen Time: Reduce exposure to digital devices and social media to alleviate stress and mental fatigue. This is especially helpful to do before bed as the blue light from screens can disrupt your sleep, leading to added stress.
- Set Boundaries: Learn to say no and establish healthy boundaries to prevent overcommitment and overwhelm. Lacking boundaries is not sustainable and will eventually lead to a losing situation for you and anyone else involved.
- Talk to a Friend or Professional: Having social support is a great stress reliever and research has even shown that it helps buffer you from the negative effects of stress. This can look like reaching out to friends or family that you trust and sharing how you feel, or seeking the professional support of a mental health professional or coach.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can start to reduce your stress and increase your overall well-being. I invite you to choose one of the stress management strategies above and put it into practice for the next 21 days.
Side note: Instead of this being just one more thing to do, or one more thing to think about in your busy schedule, let this step empower you! For you to take control of your life, for you to be able to function better, for you to feel happier and more balanced.
Recognizing the signs of excessive stress is crucial for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life. It allows you to take steps towards effective stress management. There are many ways you can lower your stress and increase your overall well-being, including prioritizing self care, breathing techniques, setting boundaries, and reaching out to a friend or a qualified professional for support. This is not just one more thing to add to your to-do-list, but an essential component of your life that allows everything to work better. Prioritize your well-being as it’s the most important thing you can do for yourself, for your goals, and the people around you.
Action step: If you experience one or more of the common symptoms of having too much stress, I invite you to choose one of the stress management options outlined in this blog and put it to practice for the next 21 days. Make it a priority and notice the positive effects on your mind, body, work, and relationships. Taking better care of your mental well-being is a win-win situation all around.