Work stress, financial stress, relationship stress, health stress, parental stress . . . everyone experiences stress, and to a degree, everyone experiences anxiety. Anxiety is something we all experience, some more frequently than others.
But when does it transcend “stress” and become something more significant, causing deeper issues physically and psychologically? Take 10 minutes to reflect. If Sundays start and that dreadful feeling at the thought of going into the office on Monday kicks-in, your standard stress may have turned to crippling anxiety and debilitating depression. It’s time to take a step back and identify if you’re beginning to cross the threshold.
Our bodies were equipped with life-saving anxiety; the stuff that teaches us how to stay safe, defend ourselves from harm, and to let us know when a threat to our lives or livelihood is approaching, like a bear in the wilderness. But we’re talking “every so often” kind of stress. Yet, we’ve evolved as a species and within our always-on, competitive culture, that sporadic, every-now-and-then kind of stress has seeped into our everyday lives.
Think: huge benchmark to hit… three times a day, every day. Will our IPO be successful, major meetings to prepare for… twice a week kind of stress. Your child is consistently getting poor grades, your wife is depressed because she’s not getting pregnant, your expenses keep increasing to maintain your lifestyle, your parents are beginning to suffer major health issues, your boss just retired and left you to pick up her workload … the list goes on.
Stress all the time is not healthy, normal, nor is it something to gloss over or ignore. Over time you’ll start to notice physical and emotional symptoms of this underlying issue (and oftentimes, it doesn’t take much time at all for these to kick in).
- Compromised immune system (getting sick all of the time, and having a harder time recovering)
- Increased or suppressed appetite
- Changes in weight (weight loss or weight gain, with struggle to find equilibrium)
- Headaches, migraines
- Inability to focus; forgetfulness, disorganization
- Digestive distress; stomach pain and cramping, bloating, and bowel dysfunction
- Palpitations/irregular heartbeat
- Loss of sleep, insomnia, night waking
- Clenching, grinding, and tight/painful jaw
- Feeling nervous, sweaty or clammy hands, trembling or shaking
- Short, rapid breathing
- Sense of hopelessness, feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability, aggravation
- Racing thoughts
- Low energy, loss of interest in social activities or hobbies
- Dry mouth
- Drug use, alcohol use, cigarette use (outside of ordinary use)
- Nail biting; nervous tics and tendencies
- Panic attacks
- Prolonged/sustained anxiety
If any of this list sounds a little too familiar, it’s time to take a step back and assess your situation. Let’s re-evaluate your priorities, your time-management and work-life balance, as well as the quality of your relationships. Enlist a professional to help, a psychotherapist or psychologist or qualified executive coach to help you process what matters to you most and to hold you accountable to get there. Not only is everything on the above list unhealthy, but many can contribute to disease and even more significant health problems.
Nothing is worth sacrificing your health or your happiness. If you’re dealing with chronic stress, it’s time to break the cycle and start living a healthy, happy, free life. Inquire about support now.