Did you know that 3 out of 5 doctor visits are due to work stress related illnesses?
Or that 44% of Americans feel more stressed out today than 5 years ago? (source http://www.stress.org/stress-is-killing-you/).
You think that by ignoring stress it will go away. Yet work stress will not be quieted…
According to Merriam-Webster, stress is a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc. It’s something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety and can often feel like physical force or pressure slowing you down.
Stress manifests physically
Work stress often shows up in strange physical manifestations like rashes, headaches, digestion issues etc. The picture below is your body on stress.
Yet many stress symptoms are also symptoms of other illnesses. You often explain them away and keep on keeping on not letting stress “get you”.
For many years it was hard for me to believe that stress could really do this much damage to my body. This was my mindset “come on – life is full of stress you may as well embrace it if you want to get out of bed in the morning” or “I work better under pressure”. I believed these lies for a long time. Let me illustrate with a story…
I recently returned from Florida. Upon my return to the sunny yet snowy Ohio, I was welcomed with a service engine soon light in my car. “Oh, joy!” I thought. Then I did what I do too often – ignore the warning light and rationalize the causes.
“It must be the oxygen sensor flaking out again” or “I know I need to change the oil. I’ll do it when I have time.” I don’t like when my plans are interrupted. Can you relate?
I put the car in drive and went along my merry way. Eventually, I got the car checked out because the reality is, the car is 10 years old and the engine could have issues.
Heed the warning signs
The warning signs of stress you often treat like my car in the above example. You chose to ignore them. And I personally got really good at explaining stress away and dismissing it until…I couldn’t.
Over the years I have learned, and am still learning, how to listen to my body and what it’s telling me. Below are 3 warning signs to let you know that work stress is trying to kill you so you know when to slow down and make some changes.
#1 – Exhaustion + Overwhelm = Negativity:
Being exhausted every day is not normal nor is feeling overwhelmed by mundane tasks like grocery shopping, phone calls, paying bill etc. When you don’t slow down to take a break it is easier for you to become negative. Your resistance is down and everything seems to be horrible. Here are articles to help in this area: How to Be Grateful When…You’re Not, Gratitude: 10 Attitude Adjustments, and Negativity: 5 Strategies to Stay Positive from a Negative Nelly.
#2 – Inability to Stop X:
You can’t stop mindlessly scrolling through Facebook; playing games; Googling your symptoms; eating; drinking – pick your numbing activity of choice. You spend the energy you have on “relaxing” but these choices actually make you feel worse. Your mind needs to rest. Period. Here are articles to help you do that Mentally Exhausted: 3 Ways to Self-Regulate Your Energy, and Being Present: 3 Tips to Turn Off YOUR Mind’s Autopilot
#3 – Apathy:
Your inner monologue sounds a lot like a teenager. You use the word “whatever” more times than you can count. You don’t feel like doing anything. Your overwhelm has turned into a game of mind protection – you start to think if you do nothing you’ll feel human again. But you are feeding the apathy monster. Here is a great article to help talk yourself back into caring Affirmations are R.E.A.L.
Coming face to face with what’s really going on in your life is the first step to fixing the problem – so congratulations for taking the time to learn ways to find your work stress triggers!
This article was written by Mary Miller and originally posted on MyDreamCatalyst.com. Mary is the author of “The Birth of a Dream Catalyst: Unlocking the Dream from Within”