Sometimes the body gets stressed out, and stress can be detrimental to health if it's not managed properly and reduced as much as possible. Being stressed in the day increases cortisol, so knowing when you're stressed can help lower levels of cortisol and get the body and mind back to feeling healthier and more relaxed.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on paying attention to mood and behavior in order to realize when stress is overwhelming and causing problems in health and wellbeing. Thus, it's best to lower stress and try to relax when you feel yourself getting out of control. When I'm stressed, it takes over my being. I tense up, my mind hurts, I find it hard to concentrate, and I usually just want to scream. My heart rate raises, my body gets hot, and I just don't feel like myself. This is when it's important to recharge and rest, in order to feel better and more in control again. Here are 11 ways to know when you're stressed and are in need of a break, in order to get back to feeling like your old, happy self. Breathe. You got this.
1. You're Eating Habits Are Out Of Whack
If you notice appetite starting to go crazy, it might be due to stress, advises Todd Nief, personal trainer and owner of South Loop Strength & Conditioning, over email with Bustle. Nief explains that shift in hormones and elevated cortisol can cause overeating in some people who use food and cravings as a coping mechanism.
2. You're Eating Too Little
On the contrary, Nief says that some people forget to eat or experience little appetite when stressed. Nief says that he is one of those people in particular, and that when he is stressed, he often needs to remind himself to eat and fuel the body. If you experience this, set an alarm as a reminder to nibble regularly.
3. You Can't Perform Well On Workouts
If you experience your workouts are low in energy and stamina, it might mean that you are stressed and need to recharge the body in order to get back to performing optimally and with vast motivation and drive, again, explains Nief. Notice progress or lack of progress on workouts, as well as energy levels, to determine if your body is under stress or not.
4. You Wake Up Tired
Over email with Bustle, running coach and personal trainer Susie Lemmer says that waking up feeling tired (even with 7 to 9 hours of sleep), can be due to an overworked body and mind. Plus, increases in cortisol can mess with ability to sleep, so you might find it harder to catch those hours to begin with. Calm down before bed with a warm bath or soothing music.
5. You Lack Motivation
Lemmer suggests considering your motivation levels. If you feel that you are low in drive, passion and energy, or don't have a "purpose" to do each day, it might mean that you're too stressed to appreciate some of the day's tasks and that you could use some time to regain your direction and goal-oriented mindset.
6. You're Irritable
Lemmer says that when cortisol is higher, "your mood can change and you can become irritable," or more quick to provide snappy comments or to feel a breakdown in difficult situations. If this is the case, you should think of something positive and uplifting and work on breathing deeply to regain strength and control in mood.
7. You Have Inflammation
According to Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, MD, principal investigator of the study conducted at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and director of Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine, and over email with Bustle, inflammation affects your body and what you are eating, regardless of what the food consists of, and such inflammation rises when your body produces stress. If you notice elevated inflammatory markers, or body inflammation, you know you are stressed out and need to relax.
8. Your Relationships Are Suffering
Over email with Bustle, Chicago based therapist Chelsea Hudson, LCPC, explains that if your relationships, especially with a significant other, suffer and are dealing with more conflict than usual, it could be due to dissatisfaction and stress at work, which will translate over into negative energy in the relationship. If this happens, re-evaluate how you can better handle your emotions.
9. Your Hair Is Falling Out
As explained by experts at Mayo Clinic, stress and hair loss are related, and if we are under chronic stress, especially that which can influence other lifestyle areas, such as diet and sleep, then it can definitely affect what's on our heads. If you notice more hair than usual is falling out, and you're stressed, it might be wise to find outlets for relaxation.
10. Your Work Is Suffering
According to healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines, over email with Bustle, if you feel that your work and productive is lagging during the day, then it might mean you are "overwhelmed" and experiencing a work "burnout" that can get worse with time, unless you find an outlet for stress relief. If you notice you're not meeting deadlines or feel horrible during your workday commute, it might mean you're too stressed out.
11. You're Having Cravings
Traines says that when we are stressed out, it can lead to cravings that can make us feel less healthy or can zap energy and productivity. Traines says, "cravings can hit when we are stressed and inflamed." These cravings are often for unhealthy foods, such as candy, high-fat, processed goods, pastries, soda, and fried foods, like a burger and french fries. These foods will only make us more stressed, Traines advises.
If you notice that you're under chronic stress (not just a stressful fluke of a day, but more of a daily pattern developing), it can affect other areas of your lifestyle and wellbeing, and if not treated early on, it could lower your quality of life. Looking at these signs to know if you're too stressed and need to chill can help you connect with yourself and figure out which steps to take to start feeling less anxious.
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