We often focus so hard on working to achieve our goals that looking after our own wellbeing gets neglected.
We overlook the countless signals our bodies are sending us and continue pressing forward – answering emails, booking meetings, seeing friends, or hitting the gym.
Over time, small niggles become greater problems – perhaps your backache worsens, your tension headaches increase, you snap at your children more readily or you lose a contract you should have secured.
Knowing how to identify and manage early signs of stress can greatly improve overall wellbeing and ensure mind and body are working in harmony.
Not only will you feel more in control and calmer from day-to-day, but you will also avoid ‘burn out’ and the other physical, behavioural, and psychological changes that can lie in wait along the road.
Early warning signs differ from person to person.
You might have feelings of negativity or hopelessness, feel lethargic, have disrupted sleep or an altered appetite; you may have a general lack of motivation or a lowered libido. You may have increased anxiety or depressive episodes.
Some people deal with stress by temporarily withdrawing from social situations, choosing, perhaps, to hide at home and binge on Netflix – whilst others might use social interactions as a distraction, maybe being always out, drinking too much or overcommitting to social plans.
So, what should you do when you feel overwhelmed by stress?
The most important thing to do is listen.
Listen to your body and the signals its sending.
Become aware of your health, your anger or apathy – and stop.
Take a breath and reassess.
If your body isn’t happy with the way you’re living, the chances are your mind isn’t either.
Consider whether your stress is temporary: Are you dealing with an especially large project, launching a new product, awaiting the birth of a child, perhaps, or dealing with a house move?
Or has your stress become normalised?
If so, think. What kind of life do you want to lead? Do you want to work in a high-pressured job from dawn to dusk – barely seeing friends and family?
Or would you rather have healthy boundaries – Work hard during your set hours then clock off, see your friends and have quality time with your family.
If you’re a high achiever or have a goal-setting mindset, factor in some down-time after each big success. Allow yourself the time you need to immerse in your work, but grant yourself, too, the time you need to recuperate before the next project begins.
If you associate slowing down with failure, weakness, or vulnerability, seeing a therapist will help you identify the underlying causes.
If your stress is due to temporary events, therapy can help you to learn techniques for identifying and managing your thoughts, behaviours, and actions. You can also ‘play around’ with different strategies that might work for you; perhaps give yourself a ‘fun day’ off each month to try something new, maybe book yourself a massage to help release tension or find an exercise you might enjoy and release endorphins.
Everyone is different so it’s important to play around with ideas and techniques to find what works for you.
Seeking professional guidance can be one of the best choices for learning how to deal with stress.
By knowing the signs to look out for and how to react positively to them, you will increase your resilience and your ability to cope under pressure.
You will also regain control over your life – even if it has been out of control for some time.
If stress has become your problem, get in touch with our team. Discover ways of coping as you move towards a calmer, less stressful life.