There is a difference between what you assume is healthy and what is actually healthy. The (sad, unfortunate) reality is that so much of what we consider to be "health" is really just a trend, a fad, or a new study that made a suggestion, and we ran to our Pinterest boards and Facebook updates to let everybody know what they needed to be doing. All of this to say: health is surprisingly subjective, and so is stress. Our bodies are not the same, though they are built similarly, and being able to determine what they need, and how often, is a matter of truly knowing how to listen to ourselves, rather than just adopt the cues that we pick up on around us.
There are the obvious signs that you're stressed out: you're in a bad mood, you're overly emotional, you're not being productive — the list goes on. But then there are also, in equal measure, ways that your body may be telling you it's not getting quite what it needs, but you've just never learned how to really listen to it. The art of self-care is fine-tuned by that attention to detail though, and honestly, the ability to pick up on small discomforts is crucial — if we don't, they eventually evolve into the more drastic signs of overwork or sleep deprivation that either hinder or totally stop our lives. So here are a few little cues that you may want to start paying a bit more attention to, the sneaky signs that actually mean you're more more stressed than you think.
You're Always A Little Bit Tired
You're not exhausted, but you never feel fully rested, despite having gotten a decent amount of sleep. This usually means that your energy is being drained on something else.
You Eat Impulsively
When I say "impulsively," I mean to imply against your conscious will. There's nothing wrong with eating as much as you'd like, whenever you'd like it, but there is something wrong when you're eating when you're not hungry and do not want to be. You're trying to comfort, distract or re-energize, and you must figure out from what.
You Feel Like You Can't Relax
You can't focus for long enough to just sit back and enjoy a movie. Your energy must always be going toward productivity, or else you start to get upset. (Spoiler: your energy cannot be productive 24/7. If you think it is, it's usually because you're either doing things or stressing out about them 24/7 which is the absolute opposite of productivity.)
You Only Have Career Goals
When it comes to your personal life, you couldn't name one or two objectives or hopes or goals you're working toward without them being somewhat attached to your job or other obligations.
You're Putting Other People Last
When we're in a healthy emotional state, we put the people who matter to us first. When we're not, we put them last, only because we perceive something else to be in more dire need of our attention.
You're Having Irrational, Anxious Thoughts, And You Can't Shake Them
Irrational, anxious thoughts that we can't ignore or get rid of usually aren't irrational at all — they are often projections or clues into what's really bothering us — grandiose ideas, similar to dreams, that are meant to drive our attention to a particular issue.
You're Hyper-Critical Of Just About Everyone
You can find something to judge about basically any given person you're aware of. Even if it doesn't seem malicious to you, it's because you're trying to seek out their fatal flaws in hopes that it makes your own more palatable. That mess means you have a disproportionate, unhealthy or unbalanced perception of yourself.
You're Worried About Losing Your Job Despite Putting All Of Your Time And Effort Into It
When this happens, it's usually because you're either not actually putting your time into it – you're just thinking and worrying about it — or you are subconsciously afraid of losing the one thing that matters to you.
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