If you think you can burn the candle at both ends and outsmart your body, I'm sorry to tell you that you're wrong. Even people who are conditioned to function efficiently in high-stress environments have breaking points. The body and mind can only handle so much chaos before they start to show signs of wear and tear. And if you think you haven't hit your breaking point but you know you've been pushing yourself, there's a good chance you actually have — you just haven't realized the significance of the sometimes subtle signs.
"The endless difficulty of keeping up combined with the pressure to perform is causing our schedules to be overrun by stress leading to an increasing amount of anxiety," Jamison Monroe, Jr., Founder and CEO of Newport Academy of Mental Health, tells Bustle. "The expectation to be 'always on' whether it is though social media, school, work, or extracurricular activities, does not allow for our mind and bodies to rest. Human beings need to take time in their lives to recharge or else their systems become overwhelmed."
Sometimes your body will give you a few little nudges before it shuts down. It will send some non life-threatening symptoms your way that might be easy to overlook. And then maybe you'll get a cold and realize that it stuck around much longer than they usually do. Maybe you'll get a rash and convince yourself it's from something logical like sweat or a new detergent. Maybe you'll even go to the doctor and get the isolated symptoms checked out. Maybe your doctor won't even see that all the little things are actually just one big thing: your body telling you that you need to chill the F out. Here are seven signs to look out for:
You're Having Anxiety Dreams
If you're waking up feeling less rested than you were before you went to sleep, you're obviously not getting a good night's sleep. If your dreams are short and stressful, and end up waking you up or upsetting you, you might be having anxious dreams as a result of anxiety that hasn't been dealt with in your personal life.
Your Skin Is Irritated
If you're breaking out or notice your skin has become inflamed or itchy, you might have a stress rash. That's your body's sensitivity to cortisol which is released during bouts of stress or anxiety. If your skin doesn't usually appear reactive like this, you might be hitting a breaking point.
You Have Chronic Headaches
When you're stressed, you might be clenching your jaw and not even know it. That's one way to give yourself a major headache. Additionally, a lack of sleep, water, or quiet time will certainly leave you with hyper-tension and reaching for a pain-reliever.
You Have Indigestion
Anxiety and stress are terrible for your stomach. The increase of acid production can lead to acid reflux, indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea. If you notice a change in your digestion, you shouldn't shrug it off.
Your Muscles Are Tight Or Sore
When you're run-down, stressed, or over-worked, you can feel the effects in the form of muscle pain and tightness. It's a stress response to hyper-stimulation. And you don't have to be over-doing it at the gym to feel it in your neck and back. Hunching over a computer screen for late night deadlines can hurt you all the same.
Your Urine Is Dark
Your pee is a great indicator of your body's hydration levels. The darker it is, the more dehydrated it can mean that you are. A healthy body will excrete light to pale yellow urine. If you notice yours is darker than usual, you might be dehydrated because you're not taking the time to take care of yourself.
You Can't Focus
When you're overwhelmed, you're not thinking straight. And the longer you go without taking a break to recharge, the harder you're making it for yourself. When you're not sleeping, eating, and processing your mental state on a regular basis, it's easy for your thoughts to become scattered and unfocused.
These symptoms might be inconvenient, but remember, they're there for a reason: to remind you to slow down and take a breath when you need it most. Listen to these signals — they're for your own good.