7 Symptoms of Stress and How to Avoid Them
There are so many things that can cause us stress. This time of year in particular can be difficult to balance everything with the flurry of activity that comes with the holidays. When we are stressed, our bodies let us know. It manifests in one way or another!
Here are 7 symptoms of stress and tips for avoiding them:
1. Diet/Drinking too much caffeine and eating unhealthy food.
I should disclose that I’m a huge fan of ice-cream. In fact, I think it should be its own food group:-) It’s a family thing. It’s my go to food when I’m feeling good, when I’m feeling bad and just because! That said, I’m a fan for everything in moderation and that doesn’t mean every day. When we are stressed, we tend to drink too much caffeine, if you’re into that sort of thing, and crave unhealthy foods. If you’re stressed, you may reach for crunchy, salty, sweet, chocolate, fried or other type of food. The first step in changing our behavior is recognizing when we are about to make bad food or drink choices. One thing I do is have healthy alternatives on hand so when I’m feeling stressed, I make better choices. Reducing your caffeine intake really helps your physical body on so many levels. Try reducing your caffeine intake and reaching for healthier food choices when you are stressed and I promise you will feel better. It may not seem like it at the time but you’ll always feel better about making healthier choices and your body will thank you.
2. Negative Thinking/Focus on things we don’t have control over.
When we focus on things we don’t have control over, things can spiral out of control and this can create a cycle of obsessing about things. Recognizing we don’t have control over a situation is the first step in changing this stress causing behavior. We either have control over things or we have influence. I like to tell clients that if you don’t have control over a situation, turn it over to God, the Universe, whatever your belief system is, and let it go. Focus on that which you have influence over. If we have and exercise our influence over things, our influence expands. Next time you are stressed, ask yourself if you have control over the outcome. If it’s out of your control, ask yourself how you can influence it and then influence away. At the end of the day, remember that everything happens for a reason and while we can’t always control what happens, we ALWAYS have control over our response. Negative thinking impacts our health in so so so many ways. Recognizing we have the power within to be, do and have anything we desire is key to overcoming negative thinking. Knowing, feeling and believing this is key to living a life filled with peace, joy and gratitude.
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”
― Steve Maraboli
3. Get overwhelmed easily.
One way we find ourselves in overwhelm is over-committing to things. I don’t know about you but I’m a recovering “yes” person. This can cause overwhelm pretty quickly and thus creating a cycle of feeling out of control, frustrated and feeling like you need to work 200% to get everything done that needs to be done. One of the best ways I know to conquer overwhelm is to take a few minutes each day and think about what must get done today or nothing else matters. Whatever organization/planning system you use to manage your ‘to do’ list, take time and write down your priorities. Getting everything on paper and out of your head can relieve stress. Remember, NO is a complete sentence. One of the things I hated most about over-committing to things is things wouldn’t get done or I would get out of the thing I committed to. My physical body simply stopped me in my tracks. I was out of integrity with myself and those I cared about. I *hated* this! It’s best to wait 24 hours before committing to something. This gives you time to really think about how this new commitment on your time will impact your health and your goals. Is everything you spend time doing contributing to your passion, mission, vision and goals? If not, it’s time to reevaluate how you spend your time.
4. Not getting enough sleep and/or exercise.
You knew this was coming, right!?! Sleep deprivation has a huge negative impact on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being. There are countless studies about the impact sleep has on our happiness and health. Exercise is an undisputed benefit to our overall health as well. Bottom line is make sure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 days a week and get enough rest. Even exercising 10 minutes at a time helps. Most of us need 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Know how much rest your body needs and do what you need to do to get that rest on a consistent basis! One thing that I find helps get sleep is meditating. If you don’t have a meditation practice, I recommend trying it out and seeing for yourself how this can help you. I personally find I need between 8-10 hours of sleep a night to feel my best. Another tip is getting to sleep between 10:00pm and midnight each night. Going to sleep after this time negatively impacts our natural sleeping patterns.
5. Doing everything on your own.
I should say ‘trying’ to do everything on your own is a symptom of stress. Have you ever had so much to do and tried to do everything yourself? When we are stressed and feel this way, this is the time to ask for help. Reach out and get the help you need.
When we are stressed, it can be easy to fly by the seat of our pants… to do things in response to our top of mind thing to do. Stress can create indecision. Sometimes, when we have soooo much to do, we can simply do nothing. This, of course, causes more stress yet it’s something many people do. Some people even think they do their best work under pressure. I would argue that by failing to plan we are planning to fail. We may get okay results by waiting until the last minute to do something but at what expense to our health? When we procrastinate, we create a vibration of delay. Is that the energy you want around you?
7. Rush through life.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
― Amit Ray
All of these symptoms ultimately result in rushing through life. When we feel we have so much to do we can’t possibly rest, this is when we need rest most. I call it slowing down to speed up. We need to take time and rest, relax and do things we enjoy with people we enjoy spending time with. Rushing creates imbalance and causes more stress. We can only be as effective as our minds and bodies allow. Rushing too much through life prevents us from being present with what truly matters. A few strategies I use to stay calm, centered and balanced is a gratitude practice and integrating affirmations in my day. Every day, I take time to give thanks for everything I have in life and for the people in my life. Taking even a few minutes to give thanks creates calm and puts our minds in perspective. I have integrated affirmations into my life to heal multiple things with great results. It’s all geared towards integrating the power of our minds to be, do and have anything. Affirmations help create calm…if you stop and allow the benefits to seep through your body. I have a free ebook that contains over 400 affirmations for all areas of life and 20 best practices for using them in your life. You can get your guide at http://www.tandyelisala.com/freegifts
It’s your turn: What symptoms of stress do you experience most? Which tip do you like the best? Please comment below!