Seven Signs You Are Stressed!

By Pam Paquet

Stress knows no boundaries. It does not care that spring is ending and summer is approaching quickly.  It does not recognize that May was Mental Health week and only grows more indifferent in July and August as workloads double to cover off summer vacations.  

Needless to say, stress impacts individuals and organizations on a year round basis, making right now the ideal time to get a check on stress to better manage the daily demands…and get to enjoying the sunshine of summer.

It is not surprising that people are stressed these days and are having a difficult time managing that stress. The degree of busyness in day-to-day life is ever-increasing, the list of expectations is never ending and the number of tasks and requests seems both impossible and non-stop. Much of the technology introduced to make our lives easier and more manageable appears to have the opposite result.  

I am concerned by the number of people who are stressed. Those I talk to are tired of juggling so many items. They are bitter because some of those juggled items are not even theirs! If I ask, these people will say, they have had it up to here and point to their forehead or higher. They will emphasize, and I agree, there is just so much a person can take before hitting their tipping point.

Does any of this sound familiar? What about some of these signs:

1. You can’t sleep even though you are exhausted.
Many who are stressed feel constantly exhausted but, ironically, when bedtime comes, they sleep poorly or not at all. They have problems falling, staying or going back to sleep. Often, it is because the thoughts just won’t stop: they are too busy rehashing an incident, mentally writing their “to do” list or worrying about the future.  

2. You are not sure if you turned off the coffee pot, fed the dog, answered that email.
Fact: Life is busy. If we were to write down all the tasks we do in a day, the number could easily hit the three digit mark. Wearing the hats of spouse/partner, parent, adult child, sibling, worker, taxi driver, banker, shopper, social planner and concierge creates a workload too big for anyone. When overloaded, our memory and ability to stay organized are challenged.

3. You can’t get a handle on your weight.
Whether our weight goes up or down, we want to feel in control of it, yet un-planned weight shifts can be a prime indicator of stress level. Seeing the scale go up can be due to emotional eating, grabbing unhealthy food on the run or not having the motivation or energy to exercise. When the scale goes down the culprit might be not taking time to eat, avoiding food due to stomach problems or resorting to unhealthy habits (smoking, drinking, etc).

4. You will get around to taking care of yourself later.
Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds – better, faster, smaller (or bigger for TVs) and more efficient. This vibe of constant improvement causes many people to feel they also need to constantly do more and do it better. They create an expectation to be all things, to all people, all the time, rather than to focus on personal needs and limits. Racing to please everyone is impossible and after extended periods the body will send indicators such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue and full blown meltdowns.

5. You just need to get through this busy time.
Ever heard the saying, “when it rains, it pours”? Stress can feel like a conveyor belt of ongoing seasonal busyness, family crises, deadlines at work, over commitment and over scheduling. There is a tendency to believe this “wave” will come to an end soon, then things will be normal again. Unfortunately, when you’re already overstressed, the wave doesn’t end.

6. You are positive a massage/pedicure will do the trick.
The health and wellness world makes good money on stress. There is always a pill, massage, manicure or “get away” that will provide a break from reality and help people feel good. Unfortunately, after “the fix”, people return to real life and all they have is a distant memory. Treatments and getaways provide short breaks, but as a long term stress solution they only reduce your bank balance.

7. You can’t get anything done.
Productivity levels are indicative of energy, organization and concentration. Some people can function in chaos for a while and actually complete a few things, while others may start everything but finish nothing, then there are those who are immobilized and can neither start, nor finish, anything. If there is a regular lack of accomplishment in life, overwhelm might have entered the picture – a strong indicator stress is winning the battle.

When it comes to managing stress, people seek to “get rid of this or that” so things will be better. It is easier to look outside themselves and point the finger at others as the source of their stress. If they could just take care of, or control, those people then stress would be reduced. This is not reality.

Stress management begins with you and awareness. A better understanding of who you are and where your stress comes from will allow you to identify your stressors; but do not confuse identification of stressors with pointing the finger at others.

Awareness is the easiest way to improve your stress levels. It is imperative to identify the problems, triggers and red flags within. When you understand the roots of your stress, you will be in a position to create changes in your life to better manage your stress.

Pam Paquet specializes in creating companies that are people strong. Call it engagement, culture or alignment, she uses her psychology background to create change and improve workplaces. Pam offers therapeutic services in her private practice as well as formalized training in her consulting company and partnered with GrowthPoint Group. Her goal is to provide people with the tools, techniques and strategies to be happy, productive employees who won’t need to sit in her therapy chair.

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