“I’m not stressed. I’m fine. I got this.” How many times have you said this to yourself? You may have gone through this exact pep talk right before a mental breakdown. Everyone experiences extreme stress at some point in their lives. Learning to manage that stress takes practice, persistence, and a strong concern for your mental health.
Before you get too overwhelmed, watch for the physical signs of stress. These may be a warning that you’re in need of a mental health day.
Headaches and Migraines
A headache is often the first sign of stress. Your brain is physically aching from all the work it’s doing. You may also get a headache from staring at a computer screen or document for long periods of time. For temporary relief, take 5-minute breaks for every 30 minutes on the computer. This will not eliminate the stress causing the headache, but it will reduce the severity of it.
Bowel Discomfort and Nausea
If you’re having unexplained digestive issues, they may be from stress or anxiety. In fact, you may experience bowel discomfort before you ever realize your stressed. An upcoming meeting or a long day at work could trigger an anxiety-like reaction, whether you have anxiety or not. The symptoms get worse as your stress progresses.
Note that if you do have anxiety, you could learn to control these physical reactions through anxiety treatment. Your counselor will help you identify sources of anxiety and retrain your mind’s perception of them. To learn more about this process or to schedule an appointment, contact our Appleton, WI counseling center at 920-733-2065.
Difficulty Sleeping or Getting Too Much Sleep
Your sleep patterns are affected by stress. For some people, stress creates the need to sleep all the time. For others, stress prevents them from getting a solid night of sleep, or it make sit difficult to fall asleep altogether. As you rest, your brain sorts through the events of the day, allowing you to wake up refreshed and ready for a new list of tasks. If you cannot sleep well, your stress will only get worse with time. Once again, a counselor can help you manage your stress levels so you are able to lead a healthy, productive life.
Lack of Energy
This could be a result of the disrupted sleep schedule mentioned above, or it may be the weight of your stress in general. Your mind can barely process predictable tasks, let alone new ones that arise. You may find yourself drinking more caffeine to get through the day, or you may have difficulty expressing your thoughts. Your energy levels will improve once you get a better handle on your stress.
Grumpiness and Irritability
This may not be a physical reaction, but it is a noteworthy response to stress. you may not notice that you’re being uncharacteristically irritable, but your loved ones will. You may experience struggles in your relationship, or your friends may distance themselves from you. The last thing a grumpy person wants to hear is that they’re acting grumpy, but if someone tells you that, take notice. Assess the amount of stress your under, and get help coping with it as needed. Your loved ones will forgive the temporary touchiness if it is indeed temporary.
Learning How to Reduce Your Stress
Sometimes all it takes are a few lifestyle changes to make a big difference in your stress levels. Allocate your time wisely. Don’t commit to tasks you cannot realistically achieve. Give yourself time to relax and regroup – you don’t have to schedule every second of the day. Maintain a healthy diet and sleep routine, and know when you’ve reached your limit. Talk to a therapist about obstacles in your life, and learn how to overcome them effectively. It’s these simple habits that will allow you to live with minimal stress and maximum fulfillment.
To schedule an appointment for stress management or any other individual counseling service, contact Sherman Counseling at 920-733-2065.