One of the major hats I wear in this world is being a mom.
I have twin daughters, which means launching into parenting alone was a pretty intense crash course. Over time things leveled out, but as we move through the tween and into the full blown teen years, the tension in our house is definitely growing. And it is volatile.
Personally, I find it exhausting.
This might be a scenario you can relate to, or maybe you’re dealing with stress from work, a spouse or just a general sense of overwhelm — all of us have experienced stress in our lives.
While some stress is unavoidable and can even be helpful in certain situations as it can also be a time of growth, being overly stressed is damaging to your overall wellbeing.
Too many people are chronically and overly stressed, which significantly affects both physical and mental health.
Here are some symptoms of being overly stressed that you should look out for and some ideas on how to improve them.
A common symptom of being overly stressed is having trouble sleeping. Even if you feel exhausted, it might still take you ages to fall asleep. If you find yourself waking up multiple times throughout the night and having restless sleep, it could be due to stress.
Picture me at 2 a.m. rehashing a conversation with my daughter over and over again with no ability to really resolve it or even make her happy because I still think I was right.
Muscle tension is another common symptom of stress. This tension is commonly in the jaw, as many people clench their jaw in their sleep when they’re feeling stressed. However, stress can cause muscle aches and pains anywhere in the body with can lead to you generally feeling achy and tired.
Maybe this is why I wanted to want to work out today, but honestly just really didn’t.
Chronic stress also increases blood pressure, which is especially dangerous if you are already at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
This is the kind of stress that builds year over year from an especially intense job or life circumstances that seems unrelenting and sometimes it really is inescapable.
If you’re feeling overly stressed, you might also develop digestive issues. Stress can cause flare-ups and inflammation in the digestive system. This can cause stomach cramping, constipation, bloating, and overall discomfort.
This is why we may rock along just fine for ages and then have “flare-ups” of GI issues. They can seem out of nowhere, but your gut is directly linked to your brain, so a stressed brain can easily mean a stressed belly.
Finally, stress commonly manifests itself in our outlook. It can leave us exhausted, irritable, anxious, and even depressed. If you start to notice that you’re not feeling like your usual self and your mood has been low, it might be a sign to slow down and regroup on how you’re processing the stress at hand. Emotional symptoms of stress are just as damaging to your wellbeing as the physical signs.
Here are some of the ways that you can work to actually process the stress you’re dealing with in a healthier way, while maybe you’re waiting for your kids’ frontal cortex to fully develop, like me. Ha!
- Breathing exercises are beneficial because you have to take slow, deep breaths. This not only takes your mind off of the stressful situation by shifting your focus to your breathing, but it also physically calms your body down and takes you out of that fight or flight state.
- Exercise also does wonders to reduce stress, both in the body and mentally. If you have muscle tension due to stress, exercising and, in particular, stretching can help your body relax and release that stress. Exercising also lowers the stress hormones in the body and releases endorphins, which are chemicals that elevate your mood. Find workouts that you enjoy doing, and remember that it doesn’t always have to be strenuous. Just moving and getting your sweat on a little can help a ton and if you’re sore and achy like I mentioned, go for a lighter workout that will help your body clear out some of that physical tension.
- Finally, remember to prioritize yourself and clear some space in your schedule for “me time.” This can be a hard one because it feels like you’re just adding to your to do list. This doesn’t have to be a ton of time, but be generous with those 5-10 minutes for you that you can find in the day and don’t begrudge yourself them. This can mean working in your garden a bit, if you’re into that. Reading a bit of something you enjoy. Calling a friend. Or sometimes, it means something totally brainless like watching Schitt’s Creek just to laugh a bit.
In the end, all of these things will help your productivity levels as well because you will have more motivation and energy to complete your tasks. It’s also important to have multiple tools in your toolbox because our favorite option may not always be the one that’s most accessible.
This is why we like deep breathing the best though. We can all find time to take 3-5 deep breaths now and again to help us reset and refocus.
If you aren’t already a member of our Facebook group and you want the support of a community as you work to improve you’re health, we’d love for you to join us.
PS. If you have a favorite stress management technique that really helps you, I’d love to here about it. Hit REPLY and tell me what it is!