Of course, stress is pretty common in today’s society, but it might be possible that you’re overstressed. Let’s take a look. Are you more tired than usual lately? Do your muscles ache for no apparent reason? Do you lack the energy or motivation to do things you’d normally like to do? Are you moody, crying for no apparent reason? Do you feel stale and unmotivated?
These things, as well as stress headaches, sore backs or not sleeping well can be signs of overstress. This can interfere with your quality of life and your ability to enjoy even the simplest things. What can you do if you or a loved one is experiencing overstress?
Reasons for Overstress
Of course, everyone experiences stress at some point, but if you’re experiencing overstress, something else is probably at work here. The reasons for the stress are themselves important, of course, but your ability to handle stress itself is a major factor.
Some people seem to thrive on stress and can handle a lot of it with few ill effects. Others don’t do nearly as well under such high-pressure situations. If you can’t handle major amounts of stress, though, this isn’t something you should necessarily blame yourself for. Many researchers suggest that there is a given inherited tolerance for stress, coupled with your own particular lifestyle choices that help determine your perceived stress level. Whatever the source, though, it’s very important to both identify symptoms of overstress and to modify your lifestyle in order to reduce stress if you need to.
Even though we all have different tolerances for stress, lifestyle choices and/or sudden changes can lead to overstress for anyone, no matter whom you are. For example, if you have just gotten married, are going through divorce, have recently lost a loved one, have recently changed or lost jobs, or are incurring debt because of the economy, for example, these are all major stresses.
There may also be other factors involved that may impact your physical health even without these particular stresses. For example, you may have allergies, may have to do shift work, may be under constant pressure with stressful relationships, or be working too much. All of these can suppress your immune system and can contribute to physical symptoms of overstress, even overt illness.
How Do You Know If You’re Overstressed?
Scientifically speaking, overstress can lead to a series of chemical imbalances in your body. However, these symptoms are most common: you can have fatigue because you don’t get enough of restful sleep, you can have sore muscles because your pain tolerance is lower, and your mood may be less positive than usual because you lack energy and/or beneficial chemicals in your system known as endorphins, which help you feel more positive.
If you think you’ve been experiencing overstress but you don’t think you’ve experienced physical effects from it, look again. Do you load up on coffee if you’re feeling fatigued instead of taking a break and getting some rest? Do you use alcohol or drugs to help you sleep or to help you “feel good”? Do you depend on the adrenaline rush of working against an ever-present deadline to give you the energy you need to complete tasks?
If You’ve Got Overstress, How Do You Handle It?
If you think you’re experiencing overstress for any of the above reasons, first, recognize your tolerance level if you can. Some people don’t even know what they’re tolerance actually is, especially if you live “on the edge” all the time, but you can help determine whether or not you’re in this state just by looking at your body and what it’s telling you. Simply, if you’re uncomfortable or in pain physically, mentally or emotionally as a matter of course rather than within an acute situation that’s temporary, you probably have overstress.
To take care of it, you need to decide what’s important and lessen the amount of work you have to do. You might just have to say no to that obligatory party you said you’d throw “just because,” simply because you don’t have enough time. Or, if the problem is deeper, you might need to do something like look into a complete career change. If your life is about to undergo a radical change, such as the birth of a new baby or a move across country, it’s probably time to drop some other obligations so that you can get ready for these new changes about to come.
You can increase your tolerance for stress by exercising at least 20 minutes a day, three times a week, getting enough sleep, and reducing or eliminating stimulants such as caffeine or depressants such as alcohol. Oftentimes, refined sugars also make the body swing wildly from energy to fatigue, so this is something you should also look into reducing, in order to restore balance.
Because today’s society so often encourages one to be highly driven and “type A,” we may discount our own needs in order to live up to this standard. However, not everyone is built that way and it may be time to evaluate just what you need for yourself and then establish priorities accordingly. If your tolerance for stress is relatively low, your task is not to strive to meet higher stress situations, but to adjust your lifestyle so that your stress level is in balance with your ability to handle it. Yes, it’s true that some stress is inevitable, but a lot of it can be minimized or avoided. It’s your job to do this if you need to, so that the level you handle is optimal most of the time.
By doing so, your entire outlook on life will change for the better. By regularly keeping tabs on your stress level and making changes as necessary, you can have the energy, health and outlook to enjoy life to the fullest possible.