We all get a little stressed out sometimes. Maybe you have a big project at work one week or a jam-packed day every once in a while. But feeling that level of stress and anxiety daily isn’t good for the mind or the body. Here are the signs to watch out for that tell you you’re overwhelmed and what to do about it.
- You get headaches every day, despite drinking water
Headaches typically indicate that something else is wrong. And stress is pretty typically that “something else.” Stress headaches usually come alongside tension in the neck and shoulders. You’d be surprised how long it can take you to realize that you’re experiencing discomfort every day and that it’s preventable.
How to get rid of tension headaches fast? Implement scheduled breaks into your day and take 10 minutes to yourself, away from your computer and phone. And of course, drink lots of water if you don’t already.
- You’re anxious in other aspects of life, not just work
When we’re overwhelmed, it tends to seep into every aspect of our lives. Feeling fearful or nervous about things that don’t usually cause that reaction? You could be generally overwhelmed. For example, if you usually feel secure in your relationship, but suddenly start feeling more anxious and reading into your partner’s words and actions, it might be a sign not that something is wrong with your relationship, but that you’re overwhelmed in other areas of life.
How do you deal with increased anxiety? Notice that it’s happening. This is a warning sign that your brain needs a break. If you notice yourself feeling unusually anxious about something, make a note to implement stress-relieving activities into your daily routine.
- Nightmares and more nightmares
One day, I realized that every dream I was having was a nightmare. If you’ve experienced something similar, you know how unpleasant it can be. These recurring nightmares could be caused by your stress and anxiety levels. If you’re going to sleep anxious about tomorrow’s stressors or today’s failures, your brain isn’t going to have a great time in the sleeping process.
How do you get back to your pleasant dreamland? Create a nighttime routine that’s relaxing and prepares you for bed. (Don’t worry, it can be a super simple, 3-step plan if that’s more your speed.) This can help relax you and your mind before sleep. Also actively trying to not think about your worries at night will do wonders. If it’s hard for you, try thinking of or writing down three things you loved about your day or are grateful for before bed.
- Your sleep is all out of whack
Along with nightmares, anxiety and stress can cause you to want to sleep every free moment you get or on the other end, they can cause you to sleep terribly no matter how tired you are. Reducing stress in your day will help your night immensely. Sleep should be restful, but it’s difficult to get to a resting place after being wound up all day.
How do you reduce stress in your day? There are lots of simple ways to reduce stress. You don’t have to meditate. Create your own form of meditation. Maybe it’s reading a book on your breaks at work, maybe it’s painting or taking 10 minutes to walk outside every single day. Little moments like these sprinkled throughout your day are better than working for 8 hours, resting for 5. Try to incorporate rest.
- You find yourself not wanting to talk to others
Do you tense up when you get a phone call or even a text from a good friend? If catching up with a friend or returning a call to a family member feels like a daunting task, this is a big red flag that you’re overwhelmed. When we feel at peace with ourselves, we’re happy to make space for others. But when our days feel too full to make room for anyone else, it’s time to figure out what we can eliminate from our plates.
How do you get back to happily answering that call from your mom? Make sure you’re taking care of your own needs. Try to do at least one thing a day that’s just for you and makes you feel happy. If your mom calls while you’re working? No time for this. If your mom calls after you just wrote about your day in your journal? You’re feeling ready to share and make space for her to share about her own day.
Any one of these signs can indicate that you’re overwhelmed. If you notice any of these creeping in, take a self-assessment. Maybe one day you get a headache and think “am I stressed? I can genuinely say that I don’t feel overwhelmed. I think I just need some water.” But, maybe a couple of weeks later you’re noticing pretty consistent headaches and putting off talking to your friends and family… It might be time to check back in with your stress-relieving habits and make sure you’re following them.